Leading the News
Universities, Cities To Join $28 Million Project Studying Driverless Technology.
The San Diego Union-Tribune (2/2, Smith) reports that “the San Diego region is poised to become a research hub for self-driving vehicles” after “the federal government recently chose San Diego State University to join a roughly $28 million project aimed at studying safety issues associated with emerging vehicle technology, from automated warning systems to driverless cars.” The project, which is administered by the Department of Transportation, “links the university with two other major players in the mobility field — Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.” The associated Federal grant provides $2.8 million a year over five years “and brings in matching funds from state and private sources.”
Alumni Donate $4.5 Million To University Of Detroit Mercy.
Crain’s Detroit Business (2/2, Clifford) reports the University of Detroit Mercy received a $4.5 million grant from alumni Bernard Schlaff, who donated $3 million for engineering scholarships, and Jane Nugent, who donated $1.5 million for the Kay Nugent Chair in the College of Business Administration and the Jane Kay Nugent Endowed Scholarship for women in business. Schlaff worked for NASA’s Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. and Boeing Aircraft Co. following his graduation from the university.
OCR Investigating New York College Over Termination Of Women’s Tennis Program.
The Schenectady (NY) Daily Gazette (2/2) reports that ED’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating the University at Albany “after a gender equity complaint was filed by former women’s tennis coach Gordon Graham, whose program was terminated last year.” The lawsuit alleges that “the school’s athletic department doesn’t comply with any of the three criteria set forth by the 1972 federal Title IX law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.” The Albany (NY) Times Union (2/2) reports the lawsuit is an effort “to resuscitate the women’s program, or at least force the school to reconsider its participation ratios of male and female athletes.”
Trump Largely Silent On Higher Education Policy.
The Wall Street Journal (2/2, Korn, Subscription Publication) reports that President Trump has given few indications about how he will handle higher education policy, leaving stakeholders to doubt whether he will focus on addressing such issues as college accessibility and affordability and the student debt crisis.
Trump Threatens Revoking Federal Funds From UC-Berkeley After Riots.
The Washington Post (2/2, Svrluga) reports in the aftermath of the UC-Berkeley riots over Milo Yiannopoulos’s event, President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off federal funding to the school. Currently, UC-Berkeley received federal funds for student loans as well as grants from the National Institutes of Health. University officials have denounced the possibility pointing to the necessity of the funding. The Los Angeles Times (2/2, Watanabe, King, Netburn) reports academics and lawmakers in California have jumped to Berkeley’s defense. Supporters argue holding the event did more to bolster free speech than banning Yiannopoulos. Currently, UC schools receives three billion dollars in federal funding for research.
Politico (2/2, Nelson) reports that a man was shot last month at a University of Washington demonstration opposing a speech by Yiannopoulos. AFP (2/2, Zablit) cites a Breitbart News story as saying Yiannopoulos was planning to use the event to launch a campaign against sanctuary campuses.
A New York Times (2/2, Fuller, Subscription Publication) analysis says “protest has been synonymous” with the campus “from the earliest days of the free speech movement,” but “now the university is under siege” for its decision. The Huffington Post (2/2, Satlin) – in a story headlined “Donald Trump Defends Far-Right Troll Milo Yiannopoulos” – reports that senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on Thursday that Trump “has a point.” Conway said, “It’s like [Berkeley students] don’t welcome free speech.” Yiannopoulos responded to the cancellation, The Hill (2/2, Savransky) says, by calling it “an expression of political violence.” He said in a Facebook Live video, “I’m just stunned that hundreds of people … were so threatened by the idea that a conservative speaker might be persuasive, interesting, funny and might take some people with him, they have to shut it down at all costs.”
NSF Gives Washington State College $650,000 Grant For STEM Scholarships.
The Lynden (WA) Tribune (2/1) reports the National Science Foundation has given Whatcom Community College a $650,000 grant “to provide scholarships and academic support for 36 low-income, academically talented students pursuing associate degrees in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics and physics.”
Research and Development
Continuing Coverage: Apple Joins Amazon, Google, Facebook In AI Research Effort.
PC World ’s (2/2) weekly video series yesterday briefly mentioned Apple’s decision to join Amazon, Google and Facebook in the recently established Partnership AI Group. PC World underscores the main mission of the group will be dedicated to sharing and collaborating on AI-related research efforts, and potentially increased cross-platform support among digital assistants.
Research Team Develops Method For Controlling Polymer Semiconductor Electrical Properties.
Nanowerk (2/2, Fernandez) reports UC Santa Barbara materials researchers have discovered an efficient, simple “method for mastering the electrical properties of polymer semiconductors,” allowing “for the efficient design and manufacture of organic circuitry…of varying complexity while using the same semiconductor material throughout.” The team added “fullerene or copper tetrabenzoporphyrin (CuBP) molecules in strategic places” allowing “the charge carriers in semiconducting materials — negative electrons and positive ‘holes’ —” to be manipulated “and inverted for better device performance as well as economical manufacture.” There are man possible uses for the new method, “particularly in situations where low-cost, low-power flexible electronics would be helpful, such as printable packaging labels that function as temperature sensors for foods and other sensitive items being shipped long distances.”
Naval Operations Delegation Visits NSWC.
Military News (2/2, Joyce) reports the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) has implemented a number of new and emerging technologies to help “maintain our competitive edge,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said. A delegation from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations reviewed developments at NSWCDD, surveying programs such as the Combined Integrated Air and Missile Defense-Anti-submarine Warfare Trainer. Scientists also updated the delegation on developments to the Laser Weapon System collaboration, a “pivotal asset against asymmetric threats.”
World’s First 3D-Printed Bridge Unveiled In Madrid.
The Daily Mail (2/2) reports on the world’s first 3D-printed bridge in Madrid, which some believe “could be the future for construction.” The 12 meter-long bridge was printed on micro-refined concrete by the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. Areti Markopoulou, who led the 3D-printing team, said, “In traditional architecture there is a lot of waste material which you cannot remove, however, with 3D printing you can control where the material is deposited.” They hope the bridge will increase 3D-printing opportunities in civil engineering.
Electric Car Growth Could Overwhelm Oil Market.
The AFP (2/2, Hood) reports analysts at financial think tank Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Institute Wednesday concluded “oil companies underestimating the global market for electric vehicles could be” blindsided “by weakened demand for gas within a decade.” In a report, the analysts claim “falling costs of electric cars and renewable technology could halt growth in oil demand from as early as 2020.” Additionally, they calculated that the current demand for “electric vehicles is on track to displace two million barrels of oil per day by 2025,” noting that “a similar drop in demand preceded the collapse of oil prices in 2014.” The team concluded that figure could quintuple by 2035. Oil and gas companies appear to disagree with the notion that “growth in solar energy and electric vehicles” could “have a major impact on demand.” BP recently predicted “oil demand from cars would continue to rise well into the mid-2030s.”
Vox (2/2, Roberts) reports Rice University’s Dan Cohan told The Hill that “EV forecasts are all over the map.” While the US Energy Information Administration’s forecast is similarly increase, “nearly double its forecast from last year, and nearly 10 times its forecast from 2014,” the group “no longer thinks hybrids or plug-in hybrids will play a major role.” Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts EVs will hold “35 percent of new car sales globally by 2040” and “Greentech Media Research expects 11.4 million electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. in 2025.”
Engineering and Public Policy
US Officials Ask Judge To Lift Hold On Yellowstone Dam.
The AP (2/2, Brown) reports US officials are asking US District Judge Brian Morris to lift his 2015 order blocking the Army Corps of Engineers from building a “proposed irrigation dam and fish passage on the Yellowstone River, warning that a rapidly-disappearing, ancient fish species faces a grim future with further delays to construction.” US Fish and Wildlife Service assistant regional director Michael Thabault said delaying work further would cost the lives of the approximately 125 wild pallid sturgeon that live in the Yellowstone. The US-sponsored restoration program for the fish “ranks among the most expensive for any imperiled wildlife.” According to the AP, the irrigation dam “would divert water for 55,000 acres in Montana and North Dakota that produce sugar beets, wheat and other crops.”
IceBreaker Files State Permit For Lake Erie Wind Farm.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/2) reports Icebreaker Windpower, Inc., which is building a “pilot wind farm in Lake Erie, has filed formal applications with the Ohio Power Siting Board.” Icebreaker “is proposing to build a demonstration six-turbine wind farm in the lake about 8 to 10 miles northwest of downtown at an estimated cost of $126 million.” The company “has permit applications pending with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard.” The Energy Department “has awarded the project $50 million, deliverable in a series of small grants as the company meets the agency’s timetable, design requirements and environmental assessments.”
Poll: Ohio Voters Support Energy Choice.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/2) reports that a poll in January of Ohio voters “found strong voter opposition to the state returning to traditional utility monopolies.” More than 91 percent “would oppose any law change allowing FirstEnergy or AEP to build new power plants and raise monthly rates to pay for them,” while nearly 79 percent “would oppose any legislation that did away with a customer’s choice to shop for power suppliers.”
Maryland Legislators Override Hogan Veto On Renewable Energy Bill.
The Baltimore Sun (2/2, Wood) reports Maryland lawmakers “voted overwhelmingly” yesterday “to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill to increase the use of renewable energy in the state.” The bill, “which will require utility companies in the state to buy more energy from sources such as wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams, became law when the Democrat-controlled General Assembly voted to override the Republican governor.” Republican legislators and the governor “objected to the cost to consumers.” The Washington Post (2/2, Hicks) reports “legislative analysts estimate that the annual compliance costs for energy companies would average between $28 million and $111 million from 2017 through 2025,” that “expense that will probably be passed on to consumers.” Hogan argues the costs are essential a “tax increase that will be levied upon every single electricity ratepayer in Maryland.” The AP (2/2, Newcomer) reports local environmental groups “have supported the legislation, saying it would help the environment and the economy.”
Energy Development Group Sees Maine As Potential Home For Bioenergy Parks.
The AP (2/2) reports Stored Solar J&WE, “an international group of energy developers,” has indicated that “Maine’s archaic biomass power plants and paper mills would serve as excellent testing grounds for a new manufacturing economy based on sustainably harvested wood.” Stored Solar J&WE “believes investors can transform these industrial relics into bioenergy parks to eventually replace products made from petroleum.” The AP notes “bioenergy parks utilize all parts of a tree to create electricity, fuel, food and other useful materials.”
Appliance Makers Ready To Work With New Administration Of Efficiency Reforms.
President of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers Joseph M. McGuire writes for The Hill (2/2) in its “Congress Blog” that “many appliances are now operating at near maximum efficiency” and further efficiency mandates “may well come at the expense of appliance performance,” pointing to a case related to dishwashers that DOE aborted. “Scrapping the program entirely would also be a step backward that would potentially open the doors to a confusing patchwork of state standards,” McGuire warns. The industry “stands ready to work with the Trump administration and Congress on reform measures to develop a more effective, transparent approach.”
Leighton, PA Comm. College To Host STEM-Inspired Derby Race.
The Leighton (PA) Times News (2/2, Myszkowski) reports that the STEM community of Leighton, Pennsylvania assembled Wednesday to discuss the May 20 Carbon Schuylkill Luzerne Derby Race, an event to engage area technical school enrollees in hands-on projects that apply STEM concepts. The students will design, 3-D print, build, and race their own vehicles, according to Lehigh Carbon Community College Carbon and Schuylkill SHINE program director Rachel Strucko. Educators hope to generate lasting interest in STEM fields that students will apply when making college and career choices.
Also in the News
LabEscape Pits Physics With Puzzles In Interactive Game.
The LabEscape room opened in Urbana, IL, to simulate the use of physics in real life, Scientific American (2/2, Greenmeier) reports. Created by Paul Kwiat, a University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign physics professor, the LabEscape rooms force players to use “teamwork, communication and delegation as well as critical thinking, attention to detail and lateral thinking” to navigate through puzzles and physics problems that reveal their passage out.
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Army Corps Of Engineers: Dakota Access Pipeline Decision Still Under Review.
• Auburn University To Break Ground For New Engineering Building.
• Navy Making Progress On Autonomous Countermine Systems.
• Airbnb Introduces Tool To Help Developers Add Animations To Apps.
• Lawmakers Look For Ways To Pay For Trump’s Infrastructure Plans.