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

Leading the News

Research: Young Girls Less Likely To Think Of Women As Smart.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Anderson) reports that according to research Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/27) published Thursday by Science magazine, “girls as young as 6 years old are less likely than boys to label people of their own gender as ‘really, really smart.” The Post reports the study “raises questions about how stereotypical notions of male and female mental abilities shape the paths students take in life.” Researchers said the results “suggest that gender stereotypes about brainpower take root at a pivotal point in childhood — around first grade — and can profoundly influence academic and career choices long afterward.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Danilova) reports the research “suggests that girls as young as 6 can be led to believe men are inherently smarter and more talented than women, making girls less motivated to pursue novel activities or ambitious careers.” The AP quotes coauthor Andrei Cimpian, associate professor in the psychology department at New York University, saying, “As a society, we associate a high level of intellectual ability with males more than females, and our research suggests that this association is picked up by children as young 6 and 7.” The AP describes the study’s methodology, noting that at younger ages, girls are more likely to see members of their own gender as superlatively intelligent. “But as they became older and began attending school, children apparently began endorsing gender stereotypes.”

The Huffington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports that the research “sheds new light on girls’ ability to defy stereotypes about fields traditionally dominated by men, particularly careers in math and the sciences.” Researcher Lin Bian, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “said the results show an urgent need to intervene in children’s education ‘as early as possible’ before gendered notions about what girls and boys can accomplish set in.” NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports that the study comes “amid a push to figure out why women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.”

Higher Education

Incoming RIT President David C. Munson Profiled.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/25, Goodman) profiled incoming Rochester Institute of Technology President David C. Munson Jr., who will take office in July, saying he has “a broad vision of inclusion and combining technology and the arts.” The former University of Michigan Dean of Engineering’s “research interests are in the area of signal and imaging processing.” Munson was chosen because the presidential search committee sought “enthusiasm for RIT’s student-centered, technology-focused mission and an appreciation for maintaining a balance between research and high quality teaching and learning, as well as a familiarity with technology.”

Colleges Preparing To Protect Students From Immigration Raids.

Colleges and universities nationwide are “preparing to defend their students from potential immigration raids under President Trump,” though USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Gomez) says “it’s unclear how much power they actually have to shield their students.” The article notes that many of these schools have assured their undocumented student population in various ways they will not cooperate with ICE agents.

University of California system president Janet Napolitano has also moved to determine what they can do “to shelter its students if he carried through on his pledges to cancel the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, PRESTON, Subscription Publication) reports. However, the Times also indicates Napolitano “does not mention the word ‘sanctuary’ when describing what the university could offer,” but has instead “published detailed principles of support for undocumented students.”

Mobility Range Becoming Key Factor For Low Income Student Enrollment.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports that students are looking at a new metric in determining which school can create the most earning potential: mobility range. Mobility range measures the number of students who move from the bottom fifth of the economic ladder to the top fifth. Schools like Princeton accept few low income students, thus their mobility range is quite low- only 1.3 percent. Public schools offer the greatest range of economic mobility because they accept more low income students.

College President Finds College Scorecard Coding Error.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Douglas-Gabriel) reports Monroe College President Marc Jerome noticed a “coding error” in the Department of Education’s Scorecard. He noticed that the scorecard “undercounted people who did not pay down the balance on their undergraduate student loans. As a result, the repayment rates for most colleges and universities were inflated.” The Department has pledged to fix the problem and institute more oversight accountability. However, despite noticing the problem, it took the Department almost five months to fix the problem.

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

UC San Diego Engineering Students Create Machine To Brew Beer In Outer Space.

Fox News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports online that a team of UC-San Diego engineering students called “Team Original Gravity” are finalists “in the Lab2Moon competition being held by TeamIndus, one of the four teams with a signed launch contract to send a spacecraft to the moon as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge.” The team is developing a machine that can brew beer in outer space by combining “the ‘fermentation’ and ‘carbonation’ phases rather than separating them,” which “will eliminate the need for releasing accumulated CO2,” Fox explains.

UNH Researchers Create New Material That Could Make Safer, Lighter Weight Foam Protection.

Foster’s Daily Democrat (NH) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports, “For the first time, researchers at the University of New Hampshire have shown that rotating cells in chiral cellular solids, a foam-like substance, could lead to the creation of a new smart material.” The article adds, “Manipulating the solids by increasing the cell size could lead to safer and lighter weight foam protection in helmets, packaging and armor, and may have biomedical applications in stent designs and drug delivery systems.” The research was published online in Advanced Engineering Materials.

University Of Michigan Toilets Divert Urine To Fertilize Gardens.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/24, Householder) reported the University of Michigan “announced Tuesday that it has installed a toilet and urinal in a campus engineering building that take aim at converting human urine into fertilizers.” The AP explained, “The split-bowl toilet is designed to send solid waste to a treatment plant, but route urine to a holding tank downstairs” that “will be treated and eventually used to create fertilizers that will be applied on the grounds of the university’s botanical gardens.”

Stevens Institute’s Hanlon 2 Lab Teaches Data Visualization.

The NJTV Trenton (NJ) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/25, Vannozzi) reported online on the Hanlon 2 Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology, which is “designed for financial analytics and data visualization.” NJTV explained, “The million dollar lab is equipped with several cameras and high-def screens, allowing for on location and remote presentations,” and “there’s software to conduct trading simulations and develop financial models, using real-time and historical market data.” The article highlighted the growing job market for data scientists.

New Research Finds Gender Disparity Among Peer Reviewers.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Botkin-Kowacki) reports that new research published Wednesday in the journal Nature has found that there is a gender disparity among peer reviewers, which is but one example of gender bias identified in STEM fields. The article suggests that identifying the gender gap in peer reviewers, and understanding where it comes from, could help guide scientific fields move “toward greater gender parity.” The article goes on to speculate about likely causal factors, as well as potential solutions.

Ohio Test Track Will Update For Autonomous Car Testing.

The Cincinnati Enquirer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Thompson) reports the Transportation Research Center is using $45 million in state grants to update “an automotive test track and proving ground in central Ohio” to allow for the testing of autonomous vehicles. The center “plans to build the industry’s largest high-speed intersection, where connected vehicles can approach at full speed while relying on technology to allow them to pass within seconds,” and the facility “will also feature an urban network with traffic lights and roundabouts, plus a rural section with wooded roads.”

Also reporting is the Willoughby (OH) News-Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Gillispie).

Hydrogen Possibly Squeezed Into Metal, Physicists Plan More Measurements.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Chang, Subscription Publication) reports scientists reported on Thursday they compressed hydrogen in a metal. “If some theoretical predictions turn out to be true, the new state of hydrogen could even be a solid metal that is metastable,” according to Harvard’s Isaac Silvera and Ranga Dias, but scientists elsewhere “were harshly skeptical and wondered how the research passed peer review at a top journal like Science.” The estimate of the amount pressure applied to the hydrogen “is probably the weakest point in this paper,” said Reinhard Boehler at the Carnegie Institution for Science and ORNL. “If true, fantastic, but there’s a lot of ifs and buts in this publication.” Silvera plans additional measurements, including one and at Argonne National Laboratory.

Global Developments

China Spending In Effort To Become Major Electric Car Competitor.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Schuman, Subscription Publication) reports Chinese “government officials, corporate executives, private investors and newcomers are in a headlong rush to develop a domestic electric car industry” in an effort “to become a major competitor” in the auto industry to the United States, Japan, and Germany. Electric vehicles are a second chance at this long-time goal, which has not seen fruition despite “lavish” government spending due to a lack of “the brands, technology and managerial heft to outmaneuver their established rivals.” To that end, “the state has unleashed a torrent of cash,” but analysts warn the support could be counterproductive, “recreating the waste and excess…that has plagued other state-targeted sectors” but not “spurring the technological innovation the economy needs to compete.” The article focuses on engineer Lu Qun and his company’s efforts to produce his K50 electric car.

Industry News

Analysts See The Potential For Limited iPhone Production In The US.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Swartz) reports IHS Markit researcher, and former Foxconn vice president of engineering Dan Panzica said production for “major consumer-electronics assembly” won’t happen in the US as the costs of building the infrastructure are too great. However, he suggested that “Apple could do final assembly of a limited edition iPhone in Texas,” as the greater costs “would be offset by savings in transportation expenses.”

CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White believes the president’s “border tax proposals will be a net negative for Apple” even when a repatriation holiday is accounted for. However, White believes Apple could manufacture a “special-edition” US-produced iPhone model that came at a $100 to $200 premium. White went on to add that under the current set up with Foxconn building most iPhones in China, “both countries are winning with the way things are set up.”

Engineering and Public Policy

TransCanada Submits New Application For Keystone XL.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Khettry) reports that TransCanada Corp announced on Thursday that it had filed an application with the Department of State seeking approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The application followed the order signed by President Trump allowing the company to apply for a new permit after President Obama rejected its application in 2015. The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Cama) quotes TransCanada CEO Russ Girling saying, “This privately funded infrastructure project will help meet America’s growing energy needs as well as create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and generate substantial economic benefit throughout the U.S. and Canada.” He added, “KXL will strengthen the United States’ energy security and remains in the national interest. The project is an important new piece of modern U.S. infrastructure that secures access to an abundant energy resource produced by a neighbor that shares a commitment to a clean and healthy environment.” The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Harder, Subscription Publication) reports this is the third time TransCanada has applied for a permit from the State Department to continue the project. If completed the pipeline would send up to 830,000 bpd, mostly from Canadian oil sands, to Steel City, Nebraska, where it would then link to existing pipelines to Gulf Coast refineries. Even if the State Department approves the permit, Nebraska would also to approve construction, a process that could take months.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Krauss, Subscription Publication) reports that Trump has “reversed the government’s position” on the pipeline, in a case “pitting environmentalists against advocates of energy independence and economic growth.” The Times says that the project would create “thousands of construction jobs” but “few permanent jobs and would add only modestly to the United States’ energy security,” but is “a major symbol in the fight over…climate change.” The Times says the pipeline and the Canadian oil it would carry are “superfluous” in the current world oil market, and it would be “challenged in the courts and by vigorous local civil disobedience.” NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Frazier) reports despite the president’s public support for the pipeline projects, they will still face state and local opposition, according to industry leaders. Alan Armstrong, CEO of Williams, warned the crowd at an energy conference, “We can be very thankful about announcements like we saw yesterday about DAPL and Keystone. But that is not changing the opposition we have at the local level, and we’re going to continue to see that and it may even enhance it.” Oil and gas president of Willbros Harry New said, “After seeing what’s happened to Keystone and to Dakota Access, it leads you to believe that with all the activity planned for here, you’re going to continue to see the migration of the protesters.”

Study: Hydraulic Fracturing Causes Health Problems For Rainbow Trout.

E&E Publishing Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Subscription Publication) says that according to a new study out of the University of Alberta, fluids produced by hydraulic fracturing can cause liver and gill damage in rainbow trout. The report found that fluids can create oxidative stress in rainbow trout, which is linked to long-term biological damage. This is the first studies to use samples supplied by the oil and gas industry as Encana Corp. provided the material, but had no further input on the research. Greg Goss, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, said, “The end goal is to understand the effects of the spills, should they occur, on native aquatic animals. … This will help in both environmental policy, water treatment options for on-site water management, and improved mitigation policy and programs.”

Holmstead: Trump To Move Soon Against Clean Power Plan.

The Washington Examiner Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports former Bush administration official Jeff Holmstead expects President Trump to take action soon to begin rolling back the Clean Power Plan. Holmstead “says the nomination of Scott Pruitt is an indication that the plan’s fate will be sealed before it reaches the Supreme Court.” Holmstead also said he believes a carbon tax to combat climate change is “politically unrealistic,” because Democrats oppose removing EPA regulations as a compromise to put the tax in place.

Maryland Senate Delays Renewable Energy Veto Override Vote.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports the Maryland Senate “has postponed a vote” meant “to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a measure to boost the state’s renewable energy standards.” The vote, which was supposed to take place yesterday, will be delayed “until next week.” The delay comes “at the request of Republican Sen. Stephen Hershey, the minority whip who represents the Upper Eastern Shore.”

The Baltimore Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports “a handful of environmentalists, expecting an override vote,” traveled to Annapolis yesterday “and held signs outside the State House encouraging senators to vote for the override.” The legislation “would require one-quarter of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, up from the current requirement of 20 percent by 2022.”

Maryland Environmentalists Prepare For Fights In Annapolis. The Baltimore Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Wood) reports over “300 activists packed the annual Environmental Summit” in Annapolis on Thursday, “where they prepared to fight for environmental measures before the General Assembly.” Those in attendance heard about “top issues identified by the environmental groups, including a proposed statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing — or ‘fracking’ — for natural gas, and a bill that would require all new homes built with septic systems to use top-of-the-line treatment systems.”

New York City Commercial Landlords Join Building Efficiency Effort.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports ten of New York City’s largest commercial landlords are joining efforts to target a 30 percent emissions reduction in 10 years. Mayor Bill de Blasio is announcing Thursday that The Durst Organization, Forest City, Silverstein Properties and others including commercial tenants such as Barnes & Noble and Viacom have signed onto the carbon challenge. “The carbon challenge started in 2007 with 17 colleges and universities. It has since been expanded to include 10 hospital organizations and 18 hotels.”

Trump Hotels “Laggards” In Energy Efficiency. EnergyWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Tomich, Subscription Publication) reports that President Trump’s 52-story Manhattan luxury hotel is a “laggard” in energy efficiency. The building scored an 8 on a scale of 1 to 100, according to the New York City data from 2014. “The worst was the Trump SoHo hotel in Manhattan, which received a score of 1, placing it at the bottom 1 percent of properties of its type and size for energy intensity. On the flip side, one Trump property shined. The 71-story 40 Wall Street skyscraper in Lower Manhattan had an Energy Star score of 91.” Being sustainable or “green” is “not core to the Trump brand.”

Roberts: Building Efficiency Could Be Boosted By Greater Urban Density. David Roberts writes for Vox Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) highlighting a new paper out in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the energy efficiency gains of greater urban density. Energy use for heating and cooling by the middle of the century will increase between 7 percent and 40 percent depending on the density of development moving forward. “Density gets you slightly more reduction in building energy use than efficiency does, if you do it right,” Roberts writes, adding that “if you do both, you get the best result.”

Tesla Stock Rallying On Musk’s Rapport With Trump.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Hull) reports shares of Tesla Motors surged 40 percent since December almost to a one year high amid a “surprising” rapport between CEO Elon Musk and President Trump. Trump’s threats to tax imports could boost Tesla, which produces it electric vehicles and energy storage devices domestically. “Musk was one of a dozen chief executive officers who met with Trump at the White House Monday to talk manufacturing, taxes and trade” and he serves on the president’s economic advisory board, regularly meeting with either Trump or top aides. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a note last week, “This strategic relationship between Tesla leadership and the new administration is an important development.”

Source: Musk Pressed Trump To Back Carbon Tax. Bloomberg Politics Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Cirilli) reports Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is pressing the Trump administration to adopt a carbon tax, “raising the issue directly with President Donald Trump and U.S. business leaders at a White House meeting Monday regarding manufacturing.” A senior White House official said Musk floated the idea at the meeting “but got little or no support among the executives at the White House, signaling that Trump’s conservative political orbit remains tepid on the issue.” The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Breland) also reports.

Stewart: Trump, Musk “Bromance” Aiding Solar Energy Shares. In his “Common Sense” column for the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Subscription Publication), James B. Stewart says a “budding bromance” between President Trump and Tesla Motors and SolarCity founder Elon Musk is part of the reason shares in solar energy companies have “regained nearly all the ground they lost immediately after Mr. Trump’s victory.” The Times says there is “a growing sense that Mr. Trump and Tesla can not only coexist, but even thrive together.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

US Navy Trademarks SeaGlide Teaching Aid.

ExecutiveGov Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports the US Navy has trademarked SeaGlide, “a sea glider that serves as a teaching aid for science, technology, engineering and math classes.” The SeaGlide was jointly developed through a R&D agreement between the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock division. SeaGlide Lead Developer Michael Britt-Crane said, “Our primary mission in regards to SeaGlide is reaching as many schools and having plenty of exposure, so that as many kids as possible are at least — even if they don’t go into STEM fields – getting a better understanding of engineering.”

Hoffer Elementary School In California Opens STEAM Lab To Inspire Students

The Banning (CA) Record-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports the Hoffer School opened a new STEAM laboratory to encourage students to pursue STEAM-based careers. The project has been “four years in the making,” said Principal Matt Beilstein. The lab offers students the ability to work with 3D technology and use data collection for problem-solving and engineering.

Jack Anderson Elementary Get Hands-On Time With Da Vinci Surgical Robot.

The Tennessean Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports Jack Anderson Elementary is allowing students to conduct hands-on experiments with the da Vinci surgical robot. Dr. Jeff Hollis demonstrated how the robot works telling reporters, “We hope that by exposing all these kids to the most advanced current surgical technology, some may be inspired to actually become our surgeons of the future.”

Taylor: Vocational Education Stigma Must End.

In his article for the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26, Taylor) Peter J. Taylor argues that the stigma against vocational education needs to end, and students need to understand not all careers require a bachelor’s degree from a four year university. Despite the changing job market, many of the jobs with critical shortages do not require a four year degree. To reduce the stigma, he call on groups to offer apprenticeships for career education through providing incentives to promote student learning and training

Johnson School Receives STEM Grant To Promote Hands On Learning.

The Clarksburg (WV) Exponent-Telegram Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (1/26) reports Johnson Elementary School in West Virginia is the only school in the state that receive a STEM grant to offer students hands-on robotics projects. The school plans to use the finds to purchase “17 WeDo LEGO kits.” The purchases are an attempt by administrators and teachers to push students towards STEM careers. Students tend to be more engaged with learning when they use their hand, according to officials and students.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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