Leading the News
After Meeting With Trump, Intel CEO Announces Plans To Build Factory In Arizona.
Following a meeting with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday, Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich said his company will invest $7 billion to construct a new factory in Arizona. The New York Times (2/8, Goel, Subscription Publication) reports that while the facility “has been under consideration for several years,” Krzanich “said that the tax cuts and deregulatory policies pushed by Mr. Trump had prompted the company to move forward with its plans.” While the Washington Times (2/8, Boyer) says the new plant “will create at least 3,000 jobs,” according to The Hill (2/8, Breland), Intel “projects [it] will create 10,000 new jobs.”
While Politico (2/8, Romm, Conway) said Krzanich’s “outreach to Trump is critical to his company’s bottom line” as Trump’s “proposed changes to tax and trade policies matter a great deal to the chipmaker, given the high volume of products it exports to China and other countries,” Reuters (2/8, Rampton) highlights the fact that Intel “was one of more than 100 companies that joined together to file a legal brief opposing Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority nations.” However, the issue “did not come up during the Oval Office meeting, said Reed Cordish, a White House official in charge of technology initiatives.”
The Washington Post (2/8, Swanson) states some analysts question whether Intel would have made this investment sooner or later, without pressure from President Trump. According to Tirias Research analyst Jim McGregor, “This would have happened anyway. This was always part of their plan…But obviously the current administration and Intel are going to try to get some political gain out of it.” He deemed the move a positive step for Intel, but noted it was not a significant deviation in strategy or policy.
DeVos’ Possible Course On Higher Education Considered.
The Washington Post (2/8, Douglas-Gabriel) considers how Education Secretary DeVos will impact higher education key issues under her purview such as “student debt, for-profit regulations and other higher education issues.” She “has been somewhat vague about her vision for higher ed,” and “the large federal role in higher education finance, and troubles with servicing and collection of student debt, have fueled criticism of the agency’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars.” However, an expert told the Post that “those issues are likely take a backseat to the Trump administration’s pledge to roll back regulation of colleges and universities.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education (2/8) reports that just after DeVos was sworn in, House Republicans “voted to scrap a rule, finalized in October, which aimed to raise the bar on teacher-preparation programs, holding them more directly accountable for student outcomes.” This piece notes that DeVos “DeVos hasn’t said much about her plans for higher education, and her silence has led many observers to assume that most of the action on higher education under President Trump will come from Congress.”
Bard College President Urges Schools To Push Back Against Trump Policies.
Bard College President Leon Botstein writes in a New York Times (2/8, Subscription Publication) op-ed that under the Trump administration, there is an “atmosphere of suspicion and insecurity created by the undermining of truth” on US college campuses. Botstein singles out Trump’s policies on immigration as particularly threatening to American universities, arguing that they will damage “their highly prized superiority in science and engineering.” He calls on college leaders to “defend the principles that have enabled institutions of higher education to flourish. These are freedom and tolerance, and openness to individuals no matter their national origin or religion.”
Free College Plan Sparks Controversy In Rhode Island Legislature.
The Providence (RI) Business News (2/8) reports that key legislators in Rhode Island “on Wednesday revealed an early divide over a proposal that would provide two years of free tuition to college students who maintain at least a 2.0 GPA.” Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s Rhode Island Promise program is intended to “help families pay for the college, keep talented graduates in-state after graduation and encourage more students to attend and graduate with a degree on time.”
Research and Development
University Of Illinois Researchers Studying Using Smart Sensors To Improve Urban Safety.
The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette (2/8) reports that researchers at the University of Illinois are studying ways to “increase safety by equipping some city public spaces with motion, vibration and acoustic sensors that communicate with smartphones.” Computer science professor Klara Nahrstedt is “is applying for a $5 million National Science Foundation grant” to support the research. Nahrstedt says “the project’s focuses are privacy-preserving physical, digital and sociological safety for underserved schools, libraries, recreational centers and the bus stops that accompany them” and will “apply to community concerns about poor lighting, uneven sidewalks, low visibility at street corners or bus stops, and low understanding of digital privacy and security.”
NanoRacks CEO: Private ISS Airlock To Enable More “CubeSat” Deployments.
In continuing coverage of the Monday announcement that NanoRacks, in coordination with Boeing, will build a new commercial airlock for the ISS, the Christian Science Monitor (2/8, Reilly) reports that the “addition will expand private firms’ presence in low-Earth orbit, which NASA hopes will allow it to focus on exploring the solar system.” NanoRacks CEO Jeff Manber said that the new airlock will allow the company to triple deployments of “CubeSats” from the ISS, compared to the limited pace accommodated by the station’s sole current airlock. He explained that while the space community had long assumed that drug research would be the first “big commercial use” for space stations, in the “mysterious way that the commercial marketplace works, the first big commercial hit…has turned out to be deploying satellites.” Robyn Gatens, deputy director of NASA’s ISS division, said that “there is great interest in both” experiments and satellite deployments.
GE Ad Imagines World In Which Female Scientists Are Treated Like Celebrities.
The Huffington Post (2/8, Vagianos) reports that GE has released a new video ad which “imagines the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering, Millie Dresselhaus a.k.a. the ‘queen of carbon science’ as a star.” Children in the ad “dress up as Millie for Halloween, parents name their kids after her and there’s even a Millie emoji.” The Post explains that the ad “is part of a new announcement from GE that the global corporation is committing to hiring more women in technical roles.”
The Boston Globe (2/8, Adams) reports that GE has “committed to employing 20,000 women in technical and product management roles by 2020,” noting that that number currently stands at around 14,700. The firm is also seeking gender parity for “its entry-level training programs for new hires who recently graduated college.”
Professor: Trump Must Address Coming Loss Of Jobs Due To Technology.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post (2/8), Ed Hess, a professor of business administration at the Darden School of Business at University of Virginia, writes that President Trump should address “the looming technology tsunami that will hit the US job market over the next five to 15 years and likely destroy tens of millions of jobs due to automation by artificial intelligence, 3-D manufacturing, advanced robotics and driverless vehicles – among other emerging technologies.” Hess cites research which “indicates that 47 percent of all US jobs are likely to be replaced by technology over the next 10 to 15 years, more than 80 million in all,” and calls on Trump “to appoint a diverse blue-ribbon committee to study and make recommendations about how we, as a nation, will prepare for the coming technology tsunami and answer the tough economic questions of our time: How will we keep the American Dream alive in the Smart Machine Age?”
NYTimes Analysis: Silicon Valley Would Not Function Without Immigrants.
The New York Times (2/8, Manjoo, Subscription Publication) reports recent protests sweeping through Silicon Valley and Seattle weren’t “motivated by short-term financial gain” – instead, their opposition to the recent “executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries” stems from “the crucial role that America’s relatively open immigration policies play in the tech business.” The Times explains that “people in tech see something cataclysmic in Mr. Trump’s executive order, and in the other immigration crackdowns waiting in the wings: the end of America’s standing as a beacon for the world’s best inventors.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Atlanta Effort Could Demonstrate Usefulness Of UAVs For Airports.
Business Insider (2/8) reports that an Atlanta partnership, under a “special exception” from FAA rules, is using UAVs to conduct airport operations, which “could serve to prove to” FAA officials the value of the vehicles at airports, where they are currently banned. The city, robotics company 3DR, software firm Autodesk, and engineering firm Adkins “are working together to map out the airspace of the city’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport to prepare for a potential expansion,” and their use of UAVs in the project could demonstrate the aircraft’s’ usefulness – if regulated properly – in operations including the collection of airspace and weather data and the coordination of takeoffs and landings.
Native Groups Vow To Redouble Efforts To Block Pipeline Construction After Dakota Access Defeat.
Reuters (2/8, Volcovici, Hampton) reports Native American groups said Wednesday they intend to “step up efforts to block the development of energy infrastructure across the United States to prevent future water contamination and damage to sacred land,” after the US Army Corps of Engineers decided Tuesday to grant the final permit blocking the advancement of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The “defeat for the Standing Rock Sioux in its battle against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline” has prompted Native American groups from states including Texas, Louisiana, Wisconsin and the Dakotas to pledge their intent to “intensify efforts ranging from legal action, protests and legislative moves against both developing and existing energy projects.” Reuters adds that “the Standing Rock Sioux, along with other Native tribes, have already planned a march in Washington, D.C., on March 10.”
The Washington Post (2/8, Eilperin, Dennis, Heim) reports Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II was in Washington, DC Tuesday “to make a last-minute pitch to head off the Dakota Access Pipeline at a scheduled White House meeting” on Wednesday, when he learned the Army Corps had granted an easement allowing Energy Transfer Partners “to drill under a vast reservoir less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation.” He said, “I just feel that I was slighted. I was disrespected. I think that I was set up.” Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the Army Corps’ decision not to conduct a full scale review of the pipeline “is reneging on a commitment they made, and I think it’s fair to say that I’m profoundly disappointed with the Corps’ reversal of its decision to conduct an environmental impact statement and consider alternative routes,” calling it “a clear reversal of a commitment …on something they gave thoughtful consideration to when they decided to do an environmental review.”
How The Army Corps Wound Up At Center Of Dakota Access Fight. The Washington Post (2/8, Mufson) questions how the US Army Corps of Engineers – “an institution whose primary mission does not involve weighing energy policy, environmental consequences or tribal sensitivities” – ended up with “the key decision on permitting the Dakota Access oil pipeline.” Maranda Compton, a lawyer at the firm Van Ness Feldman specializing on natural resource firms and Native American law, explained, “Crude oil pipelines (like Dakota Access) are constructed without any overarching or centralized permitting scheme – relying instead upon piecemeal state-by-state approval, with federal permits required only where the pipeline crosses federal lands, including tribal lands, or federal water. … This whole permitting scheme is a real mess.” The Post adds that, “like much of American law, the authority over oil pipelines is a patchwork of outdated legislation with the overlays of a newer bill that in turn is the legislative product of congressional bargaining and compromise.”
Flint Files Report With EPA Detailing Plans To Implement House-Flushing Program To Remove Lead.
MLive (MI) (2/8, Fonger) reports Flint, Michigan Mayor Karen Weave filed a report from Cornwell Engineering Group with the EPA that detailed plans to implement “a house-flushing program designed to remove particulate lead from household plumbing and service piping” in homes “where there have been periodic spikes in lead levels.” According to MLive, “The report from Cornwell says the company will develop protocols and help implement the flushing program. It will conduct the first two flushing events ‘in order to train Flint staff to be able to perform the remaining events.’”
Independent Lego Robot Team To Represent Western New York At St. Louis Competition.
The Orchard Park (NY) Bee (2/9, Rizzo) reports on “the all-girl Quaker UP! Team” which took first prize in a local competition, and second in a regional competition, and is now going to the 2017 For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Lego League World Festival in St. Louis. The team has competed with 145 teams in Western New York and has not received “school district support.” The team was started in 2015 by coach Dave Bogart and his daughters after Ellicott Elementary discontinued its team. Their project “will focus on solving problems faced by guide dogs and their users.” Team members have raised $4,070 of the $20,000 they will need for the trip.
Tennessee County Selecting CTE Textbooks.
The Rogersville (TN) Review (2/8) reports Hawkins County schools are selecting textbooks for Career and Technical Education for grades K-12. Textbook Coordinator Richard Hutson said, “The textbooks being considered have all been reviewed at the state level and have been placed on the list of state approved textbooks.” He said the committee will ask for teachers’ assistance in making its selections.
Company Offers After-school And Summer Camp STEM Programs.
The Chicago Tribune (2/8, Elahi) reports on Digital Adventures, a company that “runs summer camps and after-school courses to expose kids to engineering and computer science,” including robotics courses. The courses cost $199 for four sessions, or $125 per day for summer camps, and workshops cost $115 for three hours, with “birthday parties” available for $399. The company has developed its own curriculum.
San Jose Schools Work With Foundation Silicon Valley To Give Students A Job Experience.
The San Jose (CA) Mercury News (2/7, Baum) reports on the National Groundhog Job Shadow Day at which local high school students received “a crash course in multimedia, computer science, construction and numerous other fields.” The program was run by San Jose Unified School District with Foundation Silicon Valley. The purpose is to offer “a bridge between students enrolled in career development classes and the type of job that they might want one day.” In addition to the event, the school district has summer internships to help students “find the right career fit.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• Army Corps Of Engineers Approves DAPL, But Sioux Vow Court Action.
• Southern Methodist Launching New Masters In Engineering Entrepreneurship.
• MIT Team Creates Hydrogels In Hopes Of Improving Surgery Technology.
• Report: US Solar Jobs Grew 25 Percent In 2016.
• Engineering Company Estimates Upgrading Flint’s Water Plant Will Cost $108M.
• Colorado Library Competition To Highlight Work Of Local Girls In STEM Middle School Program.
• Cyber Attack Shuts Down One-Fifth Of Dark Web.