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

Leading the News

RIT Awarded $70M DOE Grant For Consortium.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Spector) reports the Rochester Institute of Technology has been awarded “a $70 million federal grant” from the Energy Department “to lead a national consortium that will develop new ways for clean energy in manufacturing.” Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer “announced the award for the Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute after they and Rep. Louise Slaughter pressed for the money in recent months.” The consortium will include over “100 research universities, national laboratories and private companies, the lawmakers said.” The funds will be doled out “over a three-year period and will be matched by RIT itself, the senators said.” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz “toured the region in October at Schumer’s invitation as RIT looks to research and develop wants to reduce emissions and other pollutants in the manufacturing sector.”

The Rochester (NY) Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Feltner) reports that “the consortium is known as the Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance.” Schumer said, “RIT has been leading the way in revolutionizing our manufacturing sector for years and there is no one better suited to host this new remade site. … This project has the power to bring a wealth of resources to the region and help get American manufacturing moving again.” WROC-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Rochester, NY (1/3, Flint) reports on its website that Gillibrand said, “This funding is outstanding news for the Rochester Institute of Technology and the high-tech manufacturing industry in New York State.” She added RIT “is already at the cutting edge of our nation’s clean energy research and is also a major source of talent for jobs in our state, and these funds will help ensure that the university stays in this strong position for years to come.” WHEC-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Rochester, NY (1/3) also provides coverage of this story on its website.

Higher Education

New York Governor Announces Free Public College Tuition Plan.

Casting the plan as “seizing on a popular liberal talking point on the eve of national Republican ascension,” the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, McKinley, Subscription Publication)reports New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday revealed a proposal “to offer free tuition at state colleges to hundreds of thousands of middle- and low-income New Yorkers.” According to the announcement, students “will be eligible provided they or their family earn $125,000 or less annually.”

Saying the governor is “forging ahead with one of the Democratic Party’s most popular ideas,” the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Douglas-Gabriel)reports Sen. Bernie Sanders was by his side as he made the announcement. Cuomo plans to begin rolling out the program beginning this fall. According to his office’s estimates, about one million families would be eligible for the plan, which would initially cost the state about $163 million dollars annually. USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Spector) reports legislators, who would need to approve the plan, offered no immediate comment after the announcement.

POLITICO New York Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Clukey, Skelding) highlighted the fact that Sanders joined Cuomo for the announcement, saying that the Vermont lawmaker “won a devoted backing of young supporters during his surprisingly strong presidential campaign in 2016, in part on a platform of eliminating tuition for all students at public colleges and universities throughout the country. Cuomo, who backed Hillary Clinton for president against Sanders last year, said the Vermont socialist ‘spoke to this issue of college affordability and was ahead of his time in doing it, and really awoke the nation to this crisis.’”

Newsday (NY) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Ngo, Gormley) quotes Sanders as saying, “Today what Governor Cuomo is proposing is a revolutionary idea for higher education. And it’s an idea that is going to reverberate not only throughout the state of New York but throughout this country.” Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Allen) reports that Cuomo, who is up for reelection in 2018, “is widely seen as a potential future presidential candidate.”

Other media outlets covering this story include the Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, West, Korn, Subscription Publication), the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3), Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3)he New York Observer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Toure), U.S. News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Mills), MarketWatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3), Slate Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3), the Oneida (NY) Dispatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3), and Diverse Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3).

New York Post: Cuomo Plan Doesn’t Address Woes Of State’s K-12 Education System. In an editorial, the New York Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) takes a critical view of Cuomo’s proposal, saying it “may prove…purely symbolic.” The Post says that “New York’s public colleges are bargains already: $6,470 for tuition at a SUNY four-year college, $6,330 for CUNY – with two-year schools even cheaper. And state and federal grants already cover so much of those sums that Cuomo figures he can take it down to zero with less than $200 million a year in new taxpayer funding.” The Post adds, “More important: Lowering tuition from nearly to completely free won’t do much to assure that all New York students have access to quality higher education. For that, Cuomo would have to fix New York’s K-12 public-education system, which leaves far too many high-school grads unable to do university-level work without a year or more of remedial work in college.”

Former ITT Students Sue To Claim Bankruptcy Funds.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Douglas-Gabriel)reports a group of former ITT Technical Institutes students on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the for-profit college company “to ensure participation in bankruptcy proceedings.” The students’ counsel estimated their claims at $7.3 billion. The company filed for protection in September following the Education Department curtailing the company’s access to Federal student aid. ITT had faced investigations “by more than a dozen state attorneys general and two federal agencies,” including the CFPB, which said the company forced students to take out high-interest loans to repay earlier loans.

MarketWatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Berman) reports that the firm “filed for bankruptcy last year amid allegations from regulators that the company lured students into taking on predatory private loans and misled students about the nature of its programs,” leaving “more than 30,000 students attending the school at the time in the lurch and thousands of others with degrees with questionable value in the labor market.” Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3)also covers this story.

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Research and Development

Alumnus Donates $10 Million To Stevens Institute Of Technology Research Facility.

University Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (12/20) carries a press release from Stevens Institute of Technology which says alumnus Greg Gianforte has made a “$10 million gift to name the Gianforte Academic Center, a new state-of-the-art interdisciplinary educational and research facility dedicated to technological innovation.” Combined with a previous $10 million gift from the Gianforte Family Foundation in 2012, this is “the largest gift to a single project in university history.” The release says the facility will “provide academic space and research laboratories to further advance research and education in areas of significant societal need, such as healthcare and medicine, sustainable energy, financial systems defense and security, and STEM education.”

Portland State University Testing Seismic Strength Of Cross-Laminated Timber.

The Portland (OR) Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) reports that the National Science Foundation has given Portland State University a $400,000 grant to study the sustainability and seismic integrity of construction using mass timber using cross-laminated timber. The article describes the testing being conducted by Peter Dusicka, an associate professor in the school’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Industry News

Safety Regulators Investigate Seat Belt Failure In Hyundai Vehicles.

The Detroit News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) reports that “US safety regulators” are investigating complaints that “the front passenger seat belts can fail in about 313,000 Hyundai midsize cars” from the 2013 model year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received “two complaints that the seat belts detached,” and “one injury was reported due to the problem.”

Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) reports that federal regulators are “investigating whether to recall about 313,000 2013 Hyundai Sonatas” based on “complaints by two owners.” Forbes specifies that the investigation is a “preliminary evaluation,” which will be “upgraded to an engineering analysis” only if investigators find “additional reason for concern.”

MLive (MI) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) reports that “an NHTSA investigation” was launched on Tuesday, Jan. 3, to “determine if a vehicle recall is needed.”

The Houston Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) and Law360 Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) also reported on the investigation.

Engineering and Public Policy

Maryland Governor Announces $65M Plan Promoting Clean Energy Initiatives.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Wiggins) reports Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday his plan to” spend just under $65 million on programs and initiatives to promote job growth in green industries, encourage the use of electric vehicles and reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.” Specifically, the prospective legislation “includes a $3 million investment in the state’s Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) program, which would train about 1,500 workers for jobs in solar, wind, hydroelectric and other green industries; a $7.5 million partnership with the University of Maryland Energy Research Center to create the Green Energy Institute, which would develop and attract private investment in clean energy initiatives, and an increase in the state’s electric vehicle tax credit.” The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Witte) reports the announced environmental initiatives on Tuesday come as Hogan faces “a likely veto override on a bill to boost Maryland’s renewable energy use” from 20 percent to 25 percent. The Baltimore Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Cox, Dresser) also reports.

WPost Analysis Considers Trump’s Potential Impact On NASA.

A Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Achenbach) analysis considers what impact President-elect Trump’s administration could have on NASA, saying it is “hard to predict” because Trump “hasn’t said much about space, and space wasn’t an issue in his campaign, either.” The Post looks to the makeup of Trump’s NASA “landing team” for evidence of his intentions and says that “the moon could be very much back in play” because the team “has several people who have shown interest in going back to the moon.” The Post adds that the landing team “was recently expanded to include several people associated with commercial space,” and says the Trump administration “could conceivably take the radical step of killing the SLS rocket – the Space Launch System,” in favor of letting “private companies design, build and own the hardware” and then having the government “pay those companies for access to space.”

FERC Issues Positive Environmental Study Of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.

NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Cusick) reports that FERC on Friday released its final environmental impact statement for Transco’s proposed $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise expansion. “We determined that construction and operation of the project would result in some adverse environmental impacts,” FERC staff write. “But impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Transco’s proposed and our recommended mitigation measures.” Chris Stockton is a spokesman for Williams, which operates the Transco system, “anticipates receiving final FERC approval for the project as early as February.” NPR notes the project “has faced fierce opposition from some landowners along the route.”

Report: Russia Not Behind Cyberattack On Vermont Electric Utility.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Uchill) reports that according to sources cited by the Washington Post, Russian hackers do not appear to be behind an attack on utility Burlington Electric. The report “temporarily puts to bed a news story that rankled many in the security community” and “underlines problems many have with a joint Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence and FBI report released last week.” Burlington Electric clarified that the grid had not been breached, while the joint report included “information that many experts note is not exclusively connected to Russian intelligence attacks.” Crowdstrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch tweeted last week that the USCERT report informing attribution of the attack to Russia was “a jumbled mess.”

FERC Sees Continuing Deployment Of Advanced Meters, Demand Response.

EnergyWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Kuckro, Subscription Publication) reports that according to a new FERC report, “advanced meters and demand-response programs continue to play a larger role in state and regional efforts to modernize the transmission grid and the electric industry.” The deployment of each “differs widely by states, as some are aggressively moving ahead because of legislative or regulatory actions.” Federal legislation hastened the deployment of advanced meters, while the adoption of demand response “saw a lull in 2014 and 2015 after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down a FERC regulation encouraging demand response in wholesale markets;” a ruling later reversed.

DOE Creates New Energy Efficiency Testing Procedures For Compressors.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Wheeler) reports the Energy Department has developed “new test procedures manufacturers must follow to check the energy efficiency of certain compressors.” The rule “establishes package isentropic efficiency as the applicable energy metric, which compares the actual performance of a device to the performance that would be achieved under ideal circumstances.” In addition, the rule, which goes into effect in 30 days, “establishes test methods to measure the inlet and discharge pressures, actual volume flow rate and packaged compressor power input, as well as calculations of the theoretical power necessary for compression.”

Deepwater Wind Offshore Wind Project To Deliver Cheaper Power For Block Island.

ClimateWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Subscription Publication) reports the Deepwater Wind offshore wind project off Rhode Island will soon provide low-cost power to 17,000 homes mostly to Block Island. Experts estimate it will reduce to 24 cents per kilowatt the cost of electricity for residents who currently pay a premium of almost 60 cents per kilowatt during peak times.

Biofuel Producers, Some Refiners Back Renewable Credit Trading Oversight.

Bloomberg BNA Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Dabbs) reports that recent criticism by Trump advisor and refiner Carl Icahn of “secrecy and alleged manipulation in biofuel credit trading” is “striking a chord among ethanol and other renewable fuel producers.” Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, told Bloomberg BNA, “The role of the speculators is something that has to change,” adding that the credit “is supposed to be an accounting measure to ensure RFS compliance. [The RFS program is] not intended to create a third party product.” Biofuels and refiners “suggest insufficient credit trading oversight may cause market volatility, leading, at times, to skyrocketing prices with no proper market justification.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

South Dakota Students Creating Mobile Apps To Hone STEM Skills.

The Black Hills (SD) Pioneer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3, Watson) reports Spearfish Middle School’s participation in the national program Project Lead the Way, which is “designed to give students experience” in STEM subjects, has led to classes teaching students practical skills like mobile app building and the design process for boot brace prototypes. The classes have been taught for three years at the school, and have allowed students to create functional apps for use by community members. Computer teacher Teri Bauerly said the program allows students to “know more about engineering careers and know they are available to them if they have that interest.”

Hawaii Creating Early Way To Be Accepted At University Engineering Program.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/3) reports the Hawaii state Department of Education, partnering with the University of Hawaii, is creating “a ‘college-focused pathway’ for students to pursue direct acceptance into the College of Engineering at UH-Manoa.” High school students will be able to take two engineering technology courses “consistent with the college’s entry-level course objectives.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

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