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

Leading the News

Alexander Defends DeVos, Decision To Hold Vote Next Week.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Brown) reports Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), “mounted a forceful defense of Betsy DeVos,” nominated to be Secretary of Education, saying that she is “a champion of low-income families and accusing Democrats of ‘desperately’ searching for reasons to reject her.” Alexander gave two speeches and wrote an essay supporting her. The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Brown, Douglas-Gabriel) says despite the approval of the Office of Government Ethics “there are important unanswered questions” at least “according to Democrats and ethics watchdogs.”

The Detroit News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports Alexander “doubled down” on holding a committee vote on DeVos’ nomination “next week.” He said that “Democrats’ reasons for opposing DeVos are not valid,” saying that her support for school choice “is not a new or subversive idea.” Afterwards, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) ranking member of the committee said, “Ms. DeVos gave what has been widely seen as ill-informed, confused and concerning responses to serious and reasonable questions.”

Democratic Senators Peters, Gillibrand, Menendez, And Independent King Announce Opposition To DeVos. The Detroit News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports Sen. Gary Peters (R-MI) on Tuesday announced he will not “support the nomination” of Betsy DeVos. The Bangor (ME) Daily News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Cousins) reports Sen. Angus King (I-ME) said on Tuesday that he will oppose DeVos “because of her views in favor of school choice.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “has not said how she will vote on DeVos.” The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Firozi) reports Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said that she will not support DeVos, announcing in a tweet, “I will be voting against her confirmation and I will urge my fellow Senators to do the same.” The New York Observer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) also announced his opposition.

Higher Education

Atlanta University Center Rolls Out $700,000 Security Camera System.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports that the city of Atlanta and several local colleges have partnered to fund a new security system comprised of 35 security cameras and five license plate readers, to the tune of around $700,000. The schools, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College, make up the Atlanta University Center Consortium.

Study Analyzes “Working-Class” Colleges’ Turnout Of Top-Earning Low-Income Students.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Kenworthy) explores upward economic mobility of low-income students who graduate from “working-class” colleges, such as California State University in Los Angeles. Citing a report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (pdf) titled “Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility,” the Monitor suggests public mid-tier colleges “push low-income kids into the top echelon of earners at far higher rates than the eight Ivy League colleges.” Additionally, 60 percent of low-income graduates of “Ivy-Plus” universities, such as Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “reach the top, but the mid-tier colleges beat them on the upward-mobility metric because they accept so many more poor students” who “still reach the top income bracket at comparable rates.” Study co-author John N. Friedman explained that low-income students’ access to a post-secondary education was the most compelling contributor to their upward economic mobility, because once enrolled at any tiered college, a low-income student’s performance varied little compared to wealthier students.

ASEE’s New Position Statement on Support for Engineering Education
As a new administration and Congress assume office, ASEE urges that bipartisan support for engineering education and research continue and, if possible, increase. Read the full statement here.

ASEE Winter Webinars – Student and Early Career Success
Join ASEE in January and February 2017 for two professional development webinars for students and new professionals. On January 25, learn about ASEE-administered fellowships for all grade levels and discover tips for crafting successful applications. On February 15, learn how to build strategic networks and enhance your social capital.

Research and Development

Notre Dame Lab Partners With Korean Firm To Test Power Generator.

Inside INdiana Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/23) reports the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory has entered into a $2.5 million partnership with South Korea-based Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd. for “compressor research and testing…in support of the development of a 300-megawatt class power generation gas turbine.” WBND-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter South Bend, IN (1/23) reports that the turbine “could power entire cities,” noting that testing will occur at the lab’s newest test cell room.


Tech Sector Faces Challenges In Diversifying Workforce.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Ortutay) reports on the lack of diversity in the tech sector, noting that while tech firms “tend to blame a ‘pipeline problem,’” many tech sector observers and diversity advocates say that the industry has “failed to challenge its own unstated assumptions of what makes for great tech employees — and that actively hampers diversity.” The piece concedes that Silicon Valley firms are “spending a lot of time and money on improving diversity,” but says that “subtle biases in hiring, unwelcoming work environments and a paucity of diverse role models in top positions” are stymieing these efforts.

Georgia Lawmakers Seek Expanded Access To Industry Credentialing Program.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Tagami) reports the Georgia senate has prioritized the approval of SB 3, dubbed the CONNECT (Creating Opportunities Needed Now To Expand Credentialing Training) Act, which would expand public school students’ access to the state’s credentialing program. The legislation would set minimum career education coursework for middle and high school students based on national and international standards. The measure would also expand the state Education Department’s industry partnerships and incentivize participation with competitive state grants. The legislation’s main sponsor, state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, commented, “This measure aims to provide every pupil in Georgia’s public schools with access to credential training coursework, in a critical and relevant field, to ensure our workforce needs of tomorrow can be addressed today.”

Global Developments

British and Czech Scientists Build World’s Most Powerful ‘Super Laser.’

The AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports a team of British and Czech scientists announce they have created a “super laser” that is 10 times more powerful than any other laser on earth. The “high peak power laser” averages 1,000 watts of output. Scientists hope to use the laser to revolutionize engineering with metal hardening and semiconductor production. The device weighs in at 20 metric tons and costs nearly $50 million.

NASA Developing AI Drone To Explore Planetary Bodies With Water.

The Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports NASA is developing artificial intelligence software that will allow drones to search for life on other planetary bodies with liquid water like Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The program hopes to allow the drones to plot their own course based on the circumstances they experience.

Elementary/Secondary Education

STEM Careers Offer Best Chance At America’s Best Jobs.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/23, Cava) reports that STEM careers claimed 14 of the top 50 spots for “Best Jobs in America” according to Glassdoor’s new list. STEM jobs are in high demand due to the growing reliance on technology and research.

Illinois Elementary School Adopts Engineering-focused Science Curriculum.

The Park Ridge (IL) Herald-Advocate Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports that Illinois’s Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 is in its first year of using a new kindergarten through fifth-grade science curriculum that was developed by the Teachers Curriculum Institute and is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. Anthony Clishem, the district’s curriculum specialist for science, health and social studies, said that the most significant change is the inclusion of engineering, explaining that students are challenged to solve real-world problems with what they’ve learned, developing a solution and argument and then defending their approach. He said that every lesson will have an engineering component. The Park Ridge Herald Advocate cites a district presentation explaining that the curriculum costs roughly $192,000 in total, which includes six years of subscription to the learning material.

Robotics Programs Spur Student Interest And Development.

The Lower Hudson Valley (NY) Journal News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports exposing students to robotics will teach them valuable and marketable skills transforming the way students think and communicate with one another. With STEM careers in high demand, schools have begun focusing more on the science side of curriculum. Through robotics classes, students are getting involved in clubs and attending competitions which spurs students to innovate new ideas. Schools in the New York area are using grant money to launch their own robotics programs with great success.

Students Using Computers To Sing.

The Lowell (MA) Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports 13 year old Fernanda Lozano is attempting to recreate the popular song “Take Me To Church” using only her computer to sing the lyrics. “Teach a Computer to Sing” afterschool program has been going on at Lowell’s Bartlett Community Partnership School for about 18 months. By participating, students are able to exercise their creativity as well as expand their critical thinking skills.

Engineering Program Boosts Leadership In K-12 Students.

The Memphis (TN) Commercial Appeal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports that Lewisburg Elementary School students partnered with local high school students to develop leadership and communications skills in an engineering program sponsored by DeSoto County Schools Career Tech West. High school students like Michael Chrestman eagerly anticipate the program because it offers an opportunity to practice presentation skills, “‘something that only comes with practice,’” he said; and elementary students learn how to apply fundamental engineering concepts learned in the classroom to build their own robots.

Virginia Computer Science High School To Open In September.

A new Richmond, Virginia computer science-based high school is set to open in September, WTVR-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Richmond, VA (1/24) reports. CodeRVA High School – a fully accredited Virginia high school offering a diploma, community college associate’s degree, and certifications – will offer educational services to an inaugural class of 100 through classroom, hybrid, and distance learning. A diverse pool of applicants from rising ninth and 10th grade students in qualifying districts are invited to apply and will be selected from an independent lottery system. Meanwhile, the school is actively seeking computer science experts to augment staff performance and support STEM distribution among minority communities. The school, which will provide free transportation for students, will also offer informational sessions led by executive staff.

Virginia Poll Shows Public Support For Career-specific Training In High School.

In a report by the Augusta (VA) Free Press Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24), the Virginia General Assembly reviewed data published by the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute that shows residents’ overwhelming support for high school curriculum redesign. The poll found 77 percent of respondents favored career-specific training in high school, while 54 percent of Virginians polled said they would pay more taxes to increase public school funding and 67 percent agreed to pay more if the funding supported low-income and -performance schools with programs targeting student achievement. “This poll proves that the citizens of the commonwealth support this crucial work,” Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent said.

Also in the News

ED Works With Mathematica To Develop Education Tech Evaluation Tool.

Education Dive Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports that ED’s Office of Educational Technology has partnered with Mathematica to develop the Ed Tech Rapid Cycle Evaluation Coach, which is a free platform with which schools can evaluate education technology tools.

Google For Education Introduces Two New Chromebooks.

Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24) reports Google for Education has launched two new models: Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213. Both models are low cost, touchscreen enabled devices aimed at increasing students’ interaction with technology. Both devices have cameras, a request many school districts had, and USB-C ports for fast charging.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

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