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

Leading the News

Google Announces Summer Coding Immersion Course For Howard University Students.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Guynn) reports Google announced Thursday that it will host 25 to 30 Howard University juniors at the tech company’s Mountain View campus for a 12-week immersion course in coding instruction and tech culture this summer. Senior Google engineers and Howard University faculty will provide instruction for the coursework whose credits the students can count toward graduation. USA Today says “Howard West” is part of Google’s effort to recruit more software engineers from historically black colleges and universities, given that African Americans account for one percent of its workforce. Google Vice President of Global Partnerships Bonita Stewart said one of the program’s goals is to erase systemic barriers that result in low enrollment and retention in computer science and discourage African American students from pursuing tech careers.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, McGregor) also covers this story, saying the initiative began four years ago when “Google began sending engineers to historically black colleges such as Howard University for its ‘Google in Residence’ program, an attempt to improve its recruiting from these campuses, prepare students for Google’s peculiar hiring practices, and inject their computer science courses with more of the up-to-date skills that Silicon Valley needs.” The piece explains that the new program “brings students from Washington to Mountain View, Calif., for three months of computer science classes, one-on-one mentorships with black Google tech employees, and even the Googleplex’s famous free food and shuttles.”

Higher Education

Several States Extend FAFSA Deadline After IRS Suspends Data Retrieval Tool.

WTTG-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Washington (3/23) reports “most states” are extending their deadlines for FAFSA completion to help students nationwide who are “scrambling” to get the application completed after ED and the IRS suspended an online tool that automatically imports data from tax returns. Most states have extended the deadline until April 15.

Napolitano To Reassure Mexicans UC Is Committed To Research, Academic Collaboration.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Watanabe) reports University of California President Janet Napolitano will travel to Mexico next week “to reassure leaders there that the public research university remains committed to academic collaboration — even if some of it, such as climate change research, is at risk under the Trump administration.” Napolitano said Wednesday she plans to bolster her UC-Mexico Initiative “despite President Trump’s plans to build a border wall, increase immigration enforcement and reduce federal research funding.” The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23) reports UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein says Napolitano’s three-day trip is intended “to reassure Mexico that UC campuses remain committed to academic and research collaboration despite the Trump administration’s plan to build a border wall and decrease federal research funding.” This article explains that Napolitano’s UC-Mexico Initiative is meant “to coordinate research, academic programs and student exchanges between Mexico and the UC’s 10 campuses.”

Tuition-Free College Movement Builds At Local, State Levels.

According to the Hechinger Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Marcus), there are more than 190 free-tuition programs in 40 states. W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research economist Brad Hershbein says this shows that the idea “started at the local level before percolating to the state level and then to the national level.” The Report says lawmakers in more than 23 states are considering free-tuition legislation, primarily for community colleges, according to the Education Commission of the States. Credit-rating agency Moody’s predicts the idea is likely to spread based on its political popularity and its relative cost-effectiveness as compared to incrementally increasing community college budgets. However, Columbia University Teachers College Associate Professor of Economics and Education Judith Scott-Clayton said there has been frustration with tuition-free community college programs because of low completion rates and relatively low transfer rates.

Indian Students Worried About “Specter Of Violence” In Attending US Universities.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Rai) reports on the rising concern among Indian students of attending university in the US given “the specter of physical danger.” Bloomberg discusses a meeting held in Mumbai of two dozen Indian students admitted to the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, in which they expressed their worries over “leaked draft orders that herald changes to the H-1B visa program.” The director of the university’s India office, Sudha Kumar, said, “We are waiting and watching what’s going to happen on the visa front, but I can tell you that American universities need international students and American companies want foreign engineers.”

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Research and Development

Cybersecurity For 3D Printing Sparks Concerns.

Design News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/17, Wiltz) says that cybersecurity for 3D printing is a serious concern that should be more closely examined. Associate Professor Nikhil Gupta from New York University, a co-author of “Manufacturing and Security Challenges in 3D Printing,” explains that if someone hacks the printer, insert a small defect that goes undetected and that product is used, the integrity of the product and the system in which that product is being used are compromised. The hacker could also steal the files and produce counterfeit products which would identical to the original thereby decimating the IP rights of the owner. To address these issues, Gupta says everyone in the supply chain will need to be aware of cyber threats.

University of Arizona Researchers Trying Prevent Potential Hacking Of Medical Devices.

Tucson News Now (AZ) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/22, Grijalva) says researchers at the University of Arizona are looking to prevent hacking of implanted medical devices such as pacemakers. Associate Professor Dr. Roman Lysecky believes that no matter what precautions are taken, someone will eventually figure out how to hack a medical device. Therefore, they are working not only on preventing hacking, but also the ability to detect and resolve any issues caused by the hackers.

Researchers Working To Prevent Cars From Being Hacked.

WBUR-FM Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Boston (3/17, Flahive) aired a segment on research is being backed by the Department of Homeland Security to protect cars, who can have up to 100 computers, from being hacked.

Researchers Find Way To Power Experimental Kind Of Electronic Skin.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23) reports that researchers “have found a way to power an experimental kind of electronic skin using solar energy in a further step towards the development of prosthetic limbs or robots with a sense of touch.” The researchers “developed a way to use graphene, an ultra-thin form of carbon, to generate electricity via solar power.” Reuters adds that graphene “is strong, highly flexible, electrically conductive and transparent, making it ideal for gathering the sun’s energy to generate power…said” the researchers. Their findings were discussed in Advanced Functional Materials.

Additional coverage is provided by CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Frangoul) and HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Preidt).

Auto Engineers Innovate To Make Economy Cars Quieter.

Wired Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Adams) reports on automakers’ efforts in recent years to reduce vehicle noise, “particularly for hybrid and electric vehicles that don’t have the benefit of an engine to mask other vehicle noises.” Wired explains modern economy cars now include features “like side mirrors that maneuver airflow away from your windows, suspensions that dial out road noise, expanding tape that plugs gaps, and frames to maneuver sound away from the car’s occupants” – “all developed with the help of mannequins with mics in their ears and giant spherical cameras that can ‘see’ sound.” Honda’s engineers reportedly used “acoustic glass and insulation” in their redesigned Ridgeline, along with “advanced engineering simulation technologies to design body structures where sound and vibration paths are reduced or eliminated.”

Researchers Implant Wirelessly Powered Pacemaker In A Pig.

Med Device Online Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Hodsden) reports that “advances in technology engineered at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Stanford University have improved the efficiency of energy transfers of electromagnetic power through tissue, effectively powering a pacemaker implanted in an adult pig.” Researchers used a “phased array antenna, placed directly against the skin,” which “focuses the electromagnetic energy to a specific location at efficiencies greater than what has been achieved with ultrasound or internal kinetically-sourced power.”


Rudolph: Recruiting, Retaining Skilled Employees “Number One Issue” For Manufacturers.

Parker, Smith & Feek Principal and Vice President Cliff Rudolph writes for the Puget Sound (WA) Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Subscription Publication) that President Trump’s February meeting with manufacturing CEOs focused on job creation, and area that includes “recruiting and retaining skilled and talented employees” and which he says is the “number one issue” facing manufacturers. Rudolph adds, “The impending retirement of baby boomers coupled with demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills demonstrate the importance of millennials to local manufacturers’ success.” Manufacturers “need to consider how they market to millennials in an increasingly competitive environment for talented employees.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Professor Says Cutting Federal Science Research Won’t Help Trump Achieve Economic Goals.

Michael S. Lubell at the City University of New York writes for The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23) in its “Pundits Blog” that President Trump’s budget blueprint “would turn the clock back to the time when American scientists had to travel abroad to carry out any serious research.” By slashing support for the NIH and DOE’s Office of Science by a fifth, the plan “would sell Americans short on economic growth and national security” as science and technology have accounted for at least 50 percent of economic growth since the end of World War II.

Analysis: Energy Star Program On Chopping Block For Association With Climate Change.

An analysis in the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Prakash) says that one of the most surprising targets of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts is the “the popular — and voluntary — Energy Star program.” Nives Dolšak and Aseem Prakash, both professors at the University of Washington, argue that the program was singled out by the administration as part of its concerted effort to “discontinue anything purporting to mitigate climate change.” They conclude that “if opposing climate action is the new litmus test, environmental initiatives will survive only if they are not overtly associated with climate change.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Teens From DC, Ghana Team Up For World Smarts STEM Challenge.

The NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23) “Goats and Soda” blog reports that fifteen students, seven from Washington, DC and eight from Ghana, “formed a team for the first World Smarts STEM Challenge,” which is a “science competition run by IREX, a global development nonprofit that strives to promote student enthusiasm for” STEM subjects. Seventeen such teams collaborates to solve “real-world problems.” The article focuses in on one team which worked on water purification technology.

Virginia Governor Announces $600,000 Competitive Grant Program For CTE Equipment.

WSLS-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Roanoke, VA (3/23) reports Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced “$600,000 in competitive grants to 16 high schools and technical centers to upgrade equipment for their career and technical education (CTE) programs” on Thursday. The piece quotes McAuliffe saying, “As we continue to build the new Virginia economy, it is vital that we align our CTE programs with the needs of business and industry. These grants will allow the Commonwealth to better provide our young people with the cutting-edge skills and in-demand training they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century workforce.” WDBJ-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Roanoke, VA (3/23) reports each school will “be awarded $37,500 to buy new equipment and make other needed upgrades.”

3-D Printers Becoming A Part Of Elementary Curriculum.

The Omaha (NE) World-Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Skinner) students starting in 3rd grade at Gretna Elementary School and other schools in the district are being exposed to 3-D printers, culminating in a fifth-grade project. The instructor explains that the experience is fun for the student and once some guidance is provided, the students’ creativity takes over. Though the experience can be frustrating to the student, its lays a foundation for “future learning.”

Small High School Robotics Team Advances To World Championship In Houston.

The Naples (FL) Daily News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/23, Hammerschlag) reports that a high school robotics team from Seacrest Country Day School has qualified for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics world championships in Houston. The high school team, the RoboRays, beat 60 other teams last week and fielded a team of only 13, while most are made up of at least 50 and some with upwards of a 100.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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