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

Leading the News

Bloomberg: Apple’s AR Ambitions Coming Close To Fruition.

A report from Bloomberg highlighting Apple’s AR ambitions received fairly wide tech media coverage, with all subsequent coverage focusing on the Bloomberg article, and most emphasizing the new camera-based AR features expected to come to the next generation of iPhones; though, many outlets also highlighted the possibility of wearable AR glasses Apple is now eventually expected to launch. Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Gurman) reports on Apple’s AR efforts, which include “several AR projects including digital spectacles that could connect wirelessly to an iPhone and beam content—movies, maps and more—to the wearer.” Bloomberg notes that Loup Ventures partner Gene Munster sees a move to AR as a necessity to “defend against the shift in how people use hardware,” as he expects AR devices to replace phones. Bloomberg notes that building out AR on the iPhone “isn’t a giant leap,” but developing “glasses will be harder,” including the creation of an new operating system. Bloomberg also notes that Apple has put Mike Rockwell at the head of its main AR team, who has a strong background in hardware design, and has filled out the team with “people with expertise in everything from 3D video production to wearable hardware,” while also making “tactical acquisitions” in the AR space. Bloomberg says the company now has “hundreds of engineers devoted to AR,” and again quotes Munster who said “To be successful in AR, there is the hardware piece, but you have to do other stuff too: from maps to social to payments. Apple is one of the only companies that will be able to pull it off.”

TIME Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Eadicicco) reports on the Bloomberg article, noting that some of the AR features Apple is working on include changing the “depth of photographs taken with the phone’s camera after they’ve been captured,” and allowing users to isolate a particular aspect of an image and rotate it. Time also notes the report said Apple is working on a “feature that would make it possible to overlay virtual effects and objects on a photo.” Time also comments on the potential for AR glasses, which would “put Apple in direct competition with Snap Inc.” AppleInsider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Fingas) reports the AR glasses will connect to the iPhone “wirelessly” and “display content like maps and movies.”

TechCrunch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Dillet) highlights the team Apple has assembled to work on AR, including Rockwell, Cody White, who used to work for Amazon as lead engineer on Amazon’s CryEngine game engine fork, Duncan McRoberts previously of Meta, Oculus researcher Yury Petrov, and Avi Bar-Zeev who “worked on HoloLens among other things.” TechCrunch notes that while “all of this sounds cool,” the Bloomberg report is sparse on details, though it seems likely Apple will begin implementing AR through its Camera app.

The Verge Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Vincent) reports the Bloomberg article “certainly fits with reports from other sources” on Apple’s AR ambitions, highlighting a recent report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that suggested the next iPhone’s camera would be “revolutionary.”

Fortune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Reisinger) reports that the company’s vision may “ultimately lead to new gadgets centering on the burgeoning technology melding the physical world with virtual elements.” Fortune notes that Apple CEO Tim Cook has been bullish about augmented reality in the past saying it presents a market opportunity potentially as large as the iPhone. Fortune notes that Apple’s AR-glasses likely won’t be released “for quite some time,” though it could “embed simpler augmented reality features in upcoming iPhones, and then offer more sophisticated features in standalone devices at some point in the future.”

Business Insider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Leswing), CNET News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Reardon), and Mashable Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Schroeder) also cover the Bloomberg report.

Higher Education

Documents: ED Has Paid $141 Million To Erase Former ITT Technical Institute Students’ Debt.

The Dayton (OH) Daily News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports that according to court documents filed last week by ED, “taxpayers have already shelled out more than $141 million to help students affected by the collapse of ITT Technical Institute and they may be on the hook for hundreds of millions more.” The documents indicate that discharging all relevant debt could “eventually cost more than $460 million.”

Noting that the documents are part of ITT’s bankruptcy proceedings, MarketWatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports that ITT parent company ITT Educational Services “filed for bankruptcy last year amid allegations the company misled students about the nature of its programs and lured them into taking on predatory private loans.” The firm declared bankruptcy just weeks after ED “banned the school from enrolling new students using federal financial aid over concern about the company’s financial management.”

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports that the figures described in the new court documents exclude “any loan forgiveness that the Education Department provides to students on the basis that ITT Tech defrauded them,” and that thus far, ED “does not appear” to have approved any such borrower defense to repayment claims. Politico says ED attorneys “made the filing last week to carve out their claims to ITT’s remaining assets that will be divided up among the company’s creditors as part of the bankruptcy.”

Warren Questions DeVos Over Hiring ED Employees With Ties To For-Profit College Sector.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Douglas-Gabriel) reports Sen. Elizabeth Warren has written to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seeking an explanation about “the hiring of two officials with ties to the for-profit-college industry, questioning their roles and potential conflicts of interest.” Warren’s letter expressed concerns about Robert S. Eitel, who “has taken unpaid leave from Bridgepoint Education, an operator of for-profit colleges where he works as an attorney, to serve as a special assistant to DeVos.” Taylor Hansen is a former lobbyist at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities who “told ProPublica that he was hired on a temporary basis at the department.” The article reports that the hires come as ED “has extended the deadline for career schools and community colleges that provide vocational training to submit appeals under the gainful employment rule.”

Hansen Steps Down After Ruling That Would Benefit Father’s Agency. The Chronicle of Higher Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports that Hansen “quit his job” at ED on Friday, noting that he is “the son of Bill Hansen, head of USA Funds, a student-loan-guarantee agency that has recently branched out into other career-education projects.” Tyler Hansen “resigned after the department announced that it would reverse an Obama-administration regulation that limits fees charged by guarantee agencies. In 2015, USA Funds sued the Education Department over the rule.”

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Nasiripour) reports that DeVos’ reversal of the “Obama administration directive limiting some fees” on late student loans is likely to cost student borrowers more money, and that “one of the decision’s top beneficiaries—the father of a key DeVos lieutenant who just quit—ran a firm which sued to overturn the rule.” The rule change “allows companies known as guaranty agencies to charge distressed student debtors fees equivalent to 16 percent of their total balance, even when borrowers agree within 60 days to make good on their bad debt” and is “almost certain to hand United Student Aid Funds Inc., the nation’s largest guaranty agency, a victory in its two-year legal battle against” ED.

Democrat’s Bill Would Tax Millionaires To Fund Tuition-Free College.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Mason) reports California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D) “is proposing to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all Californians, and wants to tax millionaires to do it.” Eggman’s “proposal would impose a 1% tax on incomes over $1 million to help pay for the approximate $2.2-billion price tag to cover tuition and fees for all in-state students in conjunction with existing aid.”: The Times adds, “New taxes generally face a steep climb in the Legislature, where a two-thirds vote is required for passage. But Eggman said her bill, AB 1356, would also be coupled with a constitutional amendment that would put the tax before voters for ultimate approval.”

The Sacramento (CA) Bee Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Koseff) reports, “A recent poll found a majority of Californians believe college affordability is a major problem, and it was a motivating factor for many supporters of Democrat Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election. ‘We see a real engaged citizenry after the last election, and I think this is something they would really be behind,’ Eggman said.”

University Of New Mexico International Student Applications Declining.

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports, “Fewer foreign students are looking into continuing their educations at the University of New Mexico, perhaps threatening one of the school’s growing enrollment streams.” International graduate school applications are down 16 percent from the same time last week, with applications from India, Iran, and Mexico representing the largest declines.

Purdue University Extends Tuition Freeze.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports, “Purdue University will continue to hold tuition costs at 2012 levels through the 2018-19 academic year. … Indiana residents’ tuition will remain about $10,000, out-of-state students will pay about $28,800, and international students will pay about $30,800.” Room and board costs “also will remain at 2012-13 levels or lower.”

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Research and Development

Notre Dame, South Bend Team Up On Advanced Wireless Technology Research.

The South Bend (IN) Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports that researchers with Notre Dame Wireless Institute have partnered with the city of South Bend, Indiana to demonstrate “the latest in wireless technology Monday as part of an effort to build a city-scale test bed here for advanced wireless research, including the next generation of Wi-Fi.” Researchers on Monday “conducted a test involving a drone and a small-scale wireless network consisting of two separate antennae — one atop the center itself and one affixed to a nearby mobile research vehicle.” Researchers measured the “level of communication between the drone and network as part of an effort to better understand how future networks might best communicate with autonomous vehicles and drones.”

WNDU-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter South Bend, IN (3/20) reports that the researchers are angling to win “a $100 million competition conducted by the National Science Foundation,” noting that “a share of the proceeds would be used to set up $25 million worth of high tech antennas from one end of South Bend to the other.” WBND-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter South Bend, IN (3/20) reports that if the researchers win the grant, “drones could one day be flying around downtown doing jobs for the city.” The piece quotes Notre Dame Wireless Institute’s Nick Laneman saying, “What we’re looking toward – we’re building toward – here is the idea of network control of a number of drones flying throughout the city for various use cases.”

Researchers: Perovskites Poised To Disrupt Solar Industry.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/21, Watanabe) reports solar energy researchers and industry executives say that “perovskites, a range of materials that can be used to harvest light when turned into a crystalline structure,” could revolutionize the solar energy sector. The substances “can be sprayed or printed onto the windows of skyscrapers or atop sports utility vehicles – and at prices potentially far cheaper than today’s silicon-based panels.”

Researchers Using Evolution To Develop Better Algorithms.

Quartz Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Gershgorn) reports that computer scientists are putting artificial intelligence through evolutionary processes to help develop more efficient algorithms a process called neuroevolution. Neuroevolution tries to reconstruct the processes that built parts of the brain where only the strongest survived.

HPE, BASF Partnering To Develop New Supercomputer.

Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Bridgwater) reports Hewlett Packard Enterprise and German chemical firm BASF have partnered to develop a supercomputer for industrial chemical research. Forbes reports that the computer be equipped with “Intel Xeon processors as well as high-bandwidth low-latency Intel Omni-Path Fabric and HPE management software.” Dr. Martin Brudermueller, BASF’s Vice Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer, said that the “new supercomputer will promote the application and development of complex modeling and simulation approaches, opening up completely new avenues for our research at BASF.”

Industry News

Analysis: Apple Needs To Produce Game-Changing New iPad Models If It Hopes To Reinvigorate Tablet Market.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Baig) tech writer Edward Baig reports Apple’s iPad is still the top-selling tablet, but the sales are “on the decline.” In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted “exciting things” were coming to the iPad, “within the timeframe of a 90-day clock.” Strategy Analytics senior analyst Eric Smith says, “Price is a key barrier for high-powered 2-in-1s right now. … Consumers want them, especially as hard choices lie ahead as to which computing devices will be replaced.” Smith notes that as smartphones get bigger, consumers become less intrigued by tablets, especially with higher-performing PC options. IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani adds, “Regardless of what marketers are saying, detachable tablets are simply not putting pressure on notebooks yet.” As a result, Baig indicates Apple will have to produce a tablet capable of luring consumers to purchase the iPad over an iPhone or a laptop, that offers cutting-edge features unavailable from other tablets.

Engineering and Public Policy

Opinion: Trump Budget Cuts To Science Would Harm US Technological Primacy.

In a Bloomberg View Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Smith) opinion piece, Noah Smith says the Trump budget proposal “would cut the National Institutes of Health budget by a fifth. That would slow U.S. progress in cutting-edge medical technology and biotech. Those industries are helping Rust Belt cities like Pittsburgh revitalize themselves. Trump’s Midwestern supporters should worry.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

UC Davis Develops New Program Designed To Teach C-STEM At Low Cost Through Computing And Robotics.

The Woodland (CA) Daily Democrat Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16) reports that UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing has developed a new program called C-STEM Studio that is designed to teach STEM through computing and robotics. The program is available on Raspberry Pi computer, Windows and Mac systems and retails from $5-$35.

Local NY High School Students Compete In Robotics Competition.

WROC-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Rochester, NY (3/20) reports that local New York high school students are competing at the Finger Lakes First robotic competition for $50 million in scholarships nationwide. Regional Director of FIRST in Upstate New York Glen Pearson said “Honestly for us, it’s not really about the robots. We’re not trying to make a whole generation of Robot engineers. We’re trying to get kids excited about science, technology and math, and no matter what field they choose in the future, that’s going to be very important to them.” WHEC-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Rochester, NY (3/17) reports that an all girls team from Our Lady of Mercy High School in competing in the FIRST competition with their robot named “Otto.”

Regeneron Science Talent Search Awards Grand Prize To New Jersey Student.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Balingit) reports the Regeneron Science Talent Search named New Jersey high school senior Indrani Das as its grand prize winner. Das won $250,000 for her project, which examined how brain cells called astrocytes damage neurons and potentially cause brain damage. Her work could help researchers better understand and potentially slow or reverse the process that leads to brain damage. Thousands of high school students participated in the talent search, and 40 finalists presented their work to a selection committee in Washington, DC.

Jacksonville University, Robotics Nonprofit Collaborate To Introduce Students To STEM Fields.

On its website, WJXT-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Jacksonville, FL (3/20) reports the nonprofit Renaissance Jax, which supports about 2,000 Florida students in robotics competitions, partnered with Jacksonville University in a joint effort to “aid local children in their discovery of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in an enjoyable educational setting that inspires educational and real-world achievement,” according to the nonprofit’s website. Jacksonville University will provide Renaissance Jax with academic and financial support, and will extend five annual scholarships to incoming freshman who competed on a robotics team in high school.

Toyota Donates Northern Kentucky Facility To School.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20) reports Toyota will donate a facility at its Erlanger campus in northern Kentucky to Boone County Schools. Boone County will use a $6.8 million Work Ready Skills initiative grant to convert the office and engineering lab into the Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center. The school is slated to open for the 2019-20 academic year, and will initially serve grades nine through 12. According to a Toyota news release, the school hopes to expand student possibilities through science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics education; transform the region into a high-value industry magnet; and prepare students for the workforce.

Monday’s Lead Stories

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