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

Leading the News

Researchers Take Step Toward Use Of Cryopreserved Tissues, Organs For Transplantation.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Steenhuysen) reports that “researchers have taken a major step toward the use of frozen or cryopreserved tissues and organs for transplantation, an advance that may one day ease the shortage of available organs, experts said.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Neergaard) the “researchers call their approach “nanowarming,” and they reported…that it safely and rapidly thawed larger amounts of animal tissue than today’s tools can.” The AP adds, “The trick: Bathe pieces of tissue in magnetic nanoparticles and then beam radiofrequency energy to activate them.” These “nanoparticles act like microscopic heaters, evenly warming the tissue surrounding them.” The research Share to FacebookShare to Twitter, which was partially funded by the NIH, was published in Science Translational Medicine.

STAT Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Joseph) points out, however, that “the technology needs to be refined and scaled up before it could ever possibly rewarm something the size of a human organ.” Also covering the story are The Guardian (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1) and the Telegraph (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Bodkin).

Higher Education

Study: HBCUs Graduate More Low-Income Students Than Other Colleges.

NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1) reports on its “Code Switch” blog that the Trump administration’s actions on HBCUs come “in the same week as a study by The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, revealed that the nation’s HBCUs are doing a much better job than predominantly white schools in graduating low-income black students.”

OIG Report Critiques ED’s Response To Corinthian Collapse.

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1) reports that according to a new report from ED’s Office of Inspector General, the department “has taken some steps to improve its response to the unexpected closure of large for-profit schools like Corinthian Colleges — but it should do a better job of requiring risky colleges to post collateral and prevent them from gaming financial stability tests.” The report says “the letter of credit provisions of the Obama administration’s ‘borrower defense to repayment’ regulations would improve the department’s ability to identify schools that are at risk of sudden collapse and mitigate the cost to students and taxpayers of those closures.”

Advocate: Trump Should Reinstate Standard Bankruptcy Protections For Student Loans.

In an opinion piece for The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter’s (3/1) “Pundits Blog,” founder Alan Collinge calls President Trump’s failure to address the student loan crisis in his bicameral “surprising and disappointing,” especially given his understanding of the importance of bankruptcy protections. Collinge recommends that the Administration work with Congress to return such rights through the repeal of 11 USC 523(a)(8). This would prompt the Department of Education to “crack the whip on schools to lower their prices, tighten federal lending limits,” “and administer the lending system…in a fair manner.”

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Research and Development

University Of Dayton Researcher Gets NSF Grant To Study Cellular Models.

WHIO-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Dayton, OH (3/1) reports that the National Science Foundation has given University of Dayton engineering researcher Kristen Comfort a $542,000 CAREER award to fund her efforts to “build a cellular model that acts more like the human body and allows for better understanding of drug interactions.”

Lockheed Martin, BYU Partner To Apply VR Tech To Engineering Designs.

ExecutiveBiz Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Nicholas) reports that on Tuesday, Lockheed Martin announced that it has partnered with Brigham Young University for the development of virtual reality systems to help users interact with, review, and share engineering designs. The program is tied to the company’s Digital Tapestry approach. Lockheed Martin Collaborative Human Immersive Lab Director Darin Bolthouse said that the effort “will help us learn from and share experiential 3-D imagery in every stage of product development.” Lockheed VP John Karas added that the initiative will help clients experience designs in a digital format.

Cornell Receives $200K To Assist Local Manufacturers.

The Ithaca (NY) Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1) reports Cornell University “will receive grants totaling $209,000 to provide research assistance to small- and medium-sized New York manufacturers with innovative projects that will eventually create job opportunities.” The awards were announced on Wednesday “as part of a $469,000 package of grants given by the state’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund to seven different projects across the state.”


Trump Signs Bills Meant To Help Women In STEM Fields.

The Houston Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Ryser) reports President Trump signed two bills intended “to help women launch careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.” The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act and the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers Women Act “will help women in the so-called STEM fields where they are underrepresented” according to an announcement.

Global Developments

Japan Seeks To Have 20% Of Cars To Be Autonomous In 2030.

DigiTimes (TWN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Lin) reports Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has announced a goal of having “20% of cars to be self-driving models in 2030.” DigiTimes research has found: “METI will begin to allow self-driving cars to run in low population areas in 2017”; will seek to provide self-driving taxis for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020; will permit autonomous cars on highways in 2025; on city roads in 2027; “and on all roads in metropolitan areas in 2030.”

Industry News

Samsung Discloses It Paid $215M In Acquisition Of Viv Labs.

Venture Beat Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (2/28, Novet) reports Samsung has disclosed it paid the equivalent of about $215 million in Korean won for the acquisition that made Viv Labs a subsidiary of Samsung Research America, most of which was “for goodwill” according to the filing. VB reports that since then, Viv Labs, the “virtual assistant startup” “whose team built Apple’s Siri virtual assistant,” has generated a $3.08 million loss. CrunchBase is cited reporting that Viv Labs received $30 million in funding prior to the Samsung acquisition. VB explains that Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will launch March 29 and “will include the Bixby virtual assistant, not Viv, which the startup showed off last year.” The S8 is expected to “go head to head” with a number of competitors’ devices that will also incorporate virtual assistants, including the Google Assistant on the LG G6 and Google’s Pixel phones, The Lenovo Moto Z which has an Amazon Alexa mod available, Apple’s Siri, and a virtual assistant that Huawei is reportedly developing for itself.

Report: Robots From Leading Manufacturers At “Critical Risk” Of Being Hacked.

Newsweek Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Cuthbertson) reports, “Robots built by leading manufacturers are at ‘critical risk’ of being hacked and posing a serious threat to people and property, according to cybersecurity researchers.” A research paper from cybersecurity firm IOActive “details how thousands of home, business and industrial robots have security issues that make them susceptible to cyberattack.” The company “found around 50 cybersecurity flaws across six of the biggest robotics manufacturers.” IOActive CTO Cesar Cerrudo is quoted saying, “As robots become more common, so will hacks against them. … We saw it with the rise of smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), only this time the threat that robots pose is much bigger.”

The Financial Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Kuchler, Subscription Publication) reports that the robots are at risk of spying on users, divulging trade secrets, or even being used in physical fights.

Engineering and Public Policy

USGS: 3.5 Million People Live In Areas Of Seismic Risk.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Volcovici) reports the USGS said in its second annual forecast of natural and human-caused seismic activity that parts of Oklahoma and Kansas are likely to have damaging earthquakes because of oil and gas industry activity. Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, said, “The good news is that the overall seismic hazard for this year is lower than in the 2016 forecast, but despite this decrease, there is still a significant likelihood for damaging ground shaking in the (Central and Eastern United States) in the year ahead.” Approximately 3.5 million people live in work in areas surveyed in the seismic risk map. The AP Share to
FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Borenstein) reports that while earthquakes will continue to be a problem, the issue should be less severe in 2017. Petersen said Oklahoma’s recent regulations on wastewater injection is starting to work and the lower price of oil, which reduces drilling and waste disposal, may be factors for the decline. Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Traywick) reports Oklahoma regulators recently imposed new production rules cutting disposal volumes by 800,000 bpd and limiting potential for future disposal by 2 million bpd. The USGS study showed that the regulatory efforts helped to reduce the number of quakes to 2,500 in 2016, down from 4,000 the year before. USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Rice) reports that while the regulatory efforts have helped to reduce the number of quakes, the forecast for the year is “hundreds of times higher than before induced seismicity rates rapidly increased around 2008. … Millions still face a significant chance of experiencing damaging earthquakes, and this could increase or decrease with industry practices, which are difficult to anticipate,” according to Petersen.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Lin) reports Oklahoma Geological Survey director Jeremy Boak said in a statement that the state’s regulations and low oil price “should result in further declines in the seismicity rate and limit future widespread seismic activity.” A spokeswoman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America Katie Brown said the reduced number of quakes “is a clear sign that the collaborative efforts between industry, scientists, and regulators are working.”

The Dallas Morning News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Kuchment) reports that while earthquakes virtually came to halt in the Dallas area last year. The region’s risk of a damaging earthquake dropped to less than 1 percent for 2017. However, the Permian Basin did see in an uptick in earthquake rates for 2016 and other scientific experts warned that the absence of quakes is not indicative of broader patterns. The USGS indicated the high hazard areas for earthquakes in the coming year are in Oklahoma-Kansas, the Raton Basin, north Texas, north Arkansas and the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Henry), Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Baker), and Washington (DC) Examiner Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1) also provided coverage.

Trump May Ground Flying Wind Turbines That Soared Under Obama.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Natter) reports that the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) is “at risk of cancellation” as the Trump Administration seeks to “slash spending across the government.” The article suggests that “with the antipathy among Trump’s team” toward President Obama’s climate change initiatives, “programs like ARPA-E are near the top of the budget hit list.” The article highlighted Makani Power, a high-altitude wind turbine developer that is among the companies that received ARPA-E grants to support innovative energy technology. Company founder Saul Griffith argued that “if ARPA-E goes away, high-risk energy research will die in this country.” The article points out that “business heavyweights” such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning “have banded together as part of the American Energy Innovation Council to argue ARPA-E financing should increase to $1 billion a year, about triple its current level.”

DOI Officials Call For Ideas To Keep Navajo Generating Station In Arizona Running.

The Arizona Republic Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Randazzo) reports officials met at the Department of Interior offices in Washington, DC Wednesday to discuss “a lease extension to avoid shutting down the Navajo Generating Station this year and to potentially run it beyond 2019.” The plant “is owned by four utilities and the federal Bureau of Reclamation” and, though the Bureau wants to keep it running due to its benefit to the Navajo and Hopi tribes, the “utilities want to close or otherwise cut ties to the plant because it is cheaper for them to buy other sources of power, such as natural gas.” In order for the plant to keep running beyond 2019, “new ownership must be established.” Acting Deputy Secretary of the Interior James Cason in a prepared statement, “This economic review is only one piece of the challenges we face. … The economies of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe and the state of Arizona are clearly tied to NGS operations.”

Military To Continue To Advance Green Energy Use.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Gardner) reports the Department of Defense plans to forge ahead with a decade-long effort to reduce its fossil fuel dependency despite President Trump position on government support for green energy. The move is intended to reduce the vulnerability of supply lines to enemy attack. DOD has nearly doubled renewable power generation between 2011 and 2015, to 10,534 billion Btu and the number of military renewable energy projects nearly tripled to 1,390 between. Solar companies such as SunPower and utilities including Sempra Energy and Southern have won significant utility-scale renewable energy contracts with DOD.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Study: After-School Programs Help Boost STEM Education.

The U.S. News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/1, Mirza) reports speakers and panelists at the STEM Ready America event in Washington, DC Wednesday emphasized the importance of after-school programs in boosting STEM education in schools (especially in low-income areas), reinforcing the results of a new study out by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM America. The programs connect students with science at an emotional level and provide inspirational opportunities outside the pressures of the classroom, said the keynote speaker. The study emphasizes the benefits of after-school programs in areas beyond STEM classroom competence, like career knowledge, perseverance, and critical thinking skills.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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