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

Leading the News

Apple Allegedly Developing Its Own Battery-Saving Chip.

Business Insider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Leswing) reports Bankhaus Lampe analysts said in a research note Tuesday that Apple has 80 engineers in California and Munich dedicated to designing and developing a power management integrated circuit (PMIC). Specifically, Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Turner) reports the research note published by Bankhaus Lampe analyst Karsten Iltgen stated, “There is strong evidence that Apple is developing its own power management integrated circuits and intends to replace the chip made by Dialog [Semiconductor Plc] at least in part.” Bloomberg Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Abboud) reports that, as a result of Bankhaus Lampe’s note, German-based Dialog Semiconductor “lost one-third of its market value,” given that Dialog supplies Apple with the exact chips it is now allegedly manufacturing itself. Bloomberg says 70 of Dialogs sales come from its deal with Apple. According to Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Aucharc, Wolde), Apple’s efforts to design and produce its own battery-saving chip come after it recruited top Dialog engineers in Munich. An anonymous source said of Apple, “They are poaching like crazy.”

BGR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Smith) reports this development comes after Apple announced several days ago it would be gradually cutting ties with Imagination Technology, which currently supplies its GPU chips technology. According to the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11), similar to Dialog’s stock reaction, Imagination’s shares “dived” after Apple announced its plans to end its relationship with the company. A second article from Reuters Share to FacebookShare
to Twitter (4/11, Rees) reports Charles Hanover Investments partner Dafydd Davies said, “(Dialog Semiconductor) could potentially go the same way as Imagination Technologies has recently. It just shows the risks associated with companies being very reliant on one key contract.”

TechCrunch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Dillet) reports Apple is seemingly creating a pattern, “moving down its supply chain and replacing its most important suppliers one by one,” bringing the work in-house. TC says Apple apparently wants to control the design and development of its iPhone. TC adds, “And it seems logical given that it is by far the company’s most successful device.”

Higher Education

Women Earned Just 21 Percent Of Engineering Degrees.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Korn, Subscription Publication) reports that even as computer science and engineering are growing more popular, only 21 percent of engineering degrees were earned by female undergraduates last year. This is despite the fact that women continue to earn large numbers of degrees in psychology, biology, and the social sciences. Schools are reaching out to women in STEM programs to address the gap between the genders in the hard sciences, the Journal reports.

Community College Uses 3-D Printer To Create Prosthetic Hand For Local Girl.

MLive (MI) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports that Lucy Winkler of Ann Arbor Michigan received a new prosthetic hand from students at Washtenaw Community College’s industrial technology program. The prosthetic was made by a 3-D printer. WCC Advanced Transportation Center Director Al Lecz says 3-D printing will continue to gain traction in the market due to its relatively low cost. Since creating a prosthetic for Lucy, the program has started working on another prosthetic for a different child.

University Of Illinois Computer Science Head To Step Down Amid Offer From Pittsburgh.

Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports that Dr. Rob Rutenbar, head of the esteemed University of Illinois computer science department will leave UI for a research post at the University of Pittsburgh. Rutenbar said that he could not pass up the opportunity to return to Pittsburgh and lead research enterprise on campus. Rutenbar said his decision to leave has not been shaped by the state’s budget troubles for higher education.

DeVos Revises Consumer Protections For Student Loan Borrowers.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that on Tuesday Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “withdrew a series of policy memos issued by the Obama administration to strengthen consumer protections for student loan borrowers.” The piece reports that ED is currently “issuing new contracts” to student loan servicers, and under the prior administration, the department “included contract requirements to shore up the quality of servicing.” However, the servicers “complained that the demands would be expensive and unnecessarily time consuming.” The Post quotes DeVos saying, in a letter to ED Federal Student Aid office chief James W. Runcie, “This process has been subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives. We must promptly address not only these shortcomings but also any other issues that may impede our ability to ensure borrowers do not experience deficiencies in service. This must be done with precision, timeliness and transparency.”

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Nasiripour) reports that the Obama administration memos required the Federal Student Aid office to “do more to help borrowers manage, or even discharge, their debt.” DeVos said that the Obama administration’s approach “was inconsistent and full of shortcomings. She didn’t detail how the moves fell short, and her spokesmen, Jim Bradshaw and Matthew Frendewey, didn’t respond to requests for comment.” Consumer Reports Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Kieler) says consumer advocates say the move “removes accountability for debt collectors and loan servicers.” The piece reports DeVos “called for the creation of a ‘student loan servicing environment that provides the highest quality customer service and increases accountability and transparency for all borrowers, while also limiting the cost to taxpayers.’”

New York Launches Free College Tuition Plan For Families Making Less Than $125,000.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Cherelus) reports New York has launched the Excelsior Scholarship, “first-in-the-nation plan that will let New York residents whose families makes up to $125,000 per year attend the state’s public colleges and universities for free.” Reuters says the program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed in January, is “seen as a nod to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.” The governor’s office has said it will also allocate $8 million to make resources like e-books available to students.

According to the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Chen, Subscription Publication), the program is expected to cut the cost of a degrees from a four-year State University of New York by about $26,000, leaving eligible families to pay about $57,000 over four years. Hillary Clinton tweeted Share to FacebookShare to Twitter that the measure, which Cuomo is set to sign into law Wednesday, was “a great step for progressives,” but the Times cautions that as a “last dollar” program, Excelsior would have a limited effect on the poorest students. Former SUNY Chancellor D. Bruce Johnstone said, “It will help a slice of middle-class students, but it’s only a slice.” Temple University higher education policy and sociology professor Sara Goldrick Rab said she “was fully supportive of this bill until I saw the final language,” as the provision that beneficiaries must live and work in New York post-graduation is a “poison pill” that limits mobility.

NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports in its “NPR Ed” blog that the legislation “would create the largest experiment in the country to offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges.” The piece calls the program “a big step forward in a national trend: In the last decade, 85 states and municipalities have created similar scholarship programs, most of them for community college tuition.” However, there are some “catches,” including concerns that it will “benefit higher-income New Yorkers more.”

New York ‘Free College’ Plan Includes ‘Live And Work’ Requirement. MarketWatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports that New York’s recently-announced plan to offer free tuition at state universities will require students “to live and work in New York after graduation for at least as long as they received free tuition,” or the grants become loans. Some critics call the residency requirement “a catch”, but aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said students “would be made aware through documentation when they sign up for the program of the residency requirement,” MarketWatch writes. Think tanks suggested offering alternative incentives, like loan forgiveness, to students who stay in the state, rather than re-claiming full tuition.

From ASEE
Virtual Conference – “The Culture of Teaching”
As part of the 2017 Interdivisional Town Hall Meeting, there will be a virtual conference on April 24 – 27 at this site. The conference will explore improving the culture of teaching through hands-on sessions designed to produce concrete solutions.  

Ideas Lab
A new ASEE report tries to break the code of successful interdisciplinary research.

Research and Development

Singapore Researchers Tout Data Storage Technology Breakthrough.

Fox News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports that researchers at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Engineering have developed “a new ultra-thin film technology” and are calling it “a major breakthrough in data storage and processing.” The technology was “developed in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, and Louisiana State University” and “harnesses tiny, swirling magnetic textures called skyrmions that can be used for data storage and processing on magnetic media such as hard drives.”

NYU, Michigan State Researchers Test Phone Fingerprint Security Effectiveness.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/10, Subscription Publication) reports that on Monday, New York University Tandon School of Engineering and Michigan State University researchers published the results of their tests on the effectiveness of smart phone fingerprint sensors. The researchers suggested that their artificial “MasterPrints” matched real prints as often as 65 percent of the time. The researchers did not conduct the study with real phones and security experts claimed the artificial-real print match rate would be significantly lower under real-world conditions; however, “the findings raise troubling questions” about fingerprint security technology. Apple claimed that a false match could thwart its iPhone fingerprint system in only one out 50,000 instances, and Google declined to comment. The research was published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security Share to FacebookShare to Twitter.

NYU Engineering Students Participate In Inaugural VIP Program.

Education Dive Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/10) reports New York University launched the Vertically Integrated Projects program this year. Two dozen American and foreign universities participate in the VIP Consortium, established to bring together students, faculty members, and industry professionals in projects that will ultimately have a positive impact on society. At NYU, undergraduate engineering students are working on a high-speed pod design, a standalone system to transform used plastic bottles into 3D printing material, and ways to improve innovative healthcare with emerging technologies. NYU Tandon School of Engineering associate academics dean and VIP program director Peter Voltz said participating students gain experience proving they “know how to get things done and how to learn.” He added that students’ prospective employers are more interested in their VIP project experiences than their grade point averages.

Researchers May Discern A Platform For Quantum Computing.

According to the Cornell Chronicle (NY) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11), a Cornell-based research group led by Eun-Ah Kim may use transition metal dichalcogenides to provide a platform for quantum computing. Kim say that the groups proposal is “very realistic” rather than purely theoretical which is why the study is “exciting.” Other group members include researchers from Stanford and ETH Zurich. According to Kim, the group will combine expertise in engineering, mesoscopic systems, and superconductors to “manipulate topological superconductors at temperatures near absolute zero.”

Air Force Tests Autonomous Flying Of F-16s.

International Business Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Jain) reports the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), in collaboration with Lockheed Martin, “recently tested autonomously flying F-16 fighter jets,” which “could mark a big leap for military drone technology as these jets could be used in the future for large scale air-to-ground strikes.” Capt. Andrew Petry, AFRL autonomous flight operations engineer, said in a press release issued Monday, “We’ve not only shown how an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle can perform its mission when things go as planned, but also how it will react and adapt to unforeseen obstacles along the way.”

Global Developments

Singapore Moving Forward On Self-Driving Buses.

Nikkei Asian Review (JPN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports Singapore Technologies Engineering announced it will “develop 40-seat, self-driving buses for inclusion in the national public transport system by late 2020.” Nikkei reports the company’s subsidiary ST Kinetics will head the project, which will merge “satellite navigation systems and light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARs).” The buses will reportedly be able to handle 36 seated and 33 standing passengers, with a top speed of 60km per hour. Nikkei also notes that ST will initially develop “four smaller, on-demand, self-steering shuttles for trials in 2019 on Sentosa, Singapore’s popular resort island.”

Industry News

Continuing Coverage: Boeing Looks To Save Money By Using 3D-Printed Parts For 787.

Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Moon) reports Boeing is expecting to save two to three million dollars off the cost of manufacturing each 787 Dreamliner thanks to its deal with Norwegian-based 3D-printing company Norsk Titanium. According to ComputerWorld Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Mearian), a Boeing spokesperson said in an email that “3D printing offers great potential to reduce the cost and weight of aircraft structures and improve the ability of engineers to design parts purely for their eventual function in a vehicle system.” The spokesperson also said that the company is “working to accelerate the use of 3D printing technology in its production in ways that make sense for the company and provides value without increasing risk for our customers.”

GM To Launch Super Cruise System Despite Concerns From NHTSA.

Car and Driver Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Bigelow) reports General Motors is moving forward with plans to launch the Super Cruise system later this year despite concerns expressed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over “a key aspect of the system’s design.” The system uses a small camera to track the driver’s head position while the system is activated; if the system determines the driver is inattentive, it will send out “an escalating series of cues and warnings,” and if the driver ignores those alerts, the system will bring the car to a stop. The issue with this, according to Paul Hemmersbaugh, former chief counsel at NHTSA, is that the system stops the car in the middle of its current lane rather than moving to the shoulder. Hemmersbaugh sent a letter detailing his concerns to GM in November 2016; he has since left NHTSA and joined GM. GM says its engineers have made changes to the Super Cruise system.

Airbnb Establishes Seattle Engineering Center.

GeekWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports that Airbnb “became the latest Silicon Valley tech giant to open up an engineering center in the Seattle region” last June, and “tapped two experienced executives – engineering manager Ari Steinberg and product director Ian McAllister – to lead the office.” The center is “Airbnb’s second remote engineering center,” following a Portland, Oregon center started in 2015. “The company is hiring frontend, backend, machine learning and full stack engineers” for its Seattle center, GeekWire adds.

Engineering and Public Policy

Vermont Natural Gas Pipeline Opponents Ask Governor, PHMSA To Investigate Possible Construction Violations.

VTDigger (VT) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports opponents of Vermont Gas Systems’ natural gas pipeline in Addison County, Vermont “are asking Gov. Phil Scott to require the pipeline’s owners to apply a second time for the permit allowing its construction.” They argue that “the pipeline was built without adequate safety oversight,” and “violated safety and environmental rules.” They have also “asked the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to look into the pipeline’s construction.”

California Solar Power Helped Drive Wholesale Energy Prices Below Zero.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, May) reports that solar power represented 13% of California’s power last year and helped drive “wholesale energy prices to negative prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”

California’s Solar Energy Set Power Supply Record Last Month.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11) reports “a new estimate” from the statistic arm of the Energy Department “shows that California met its goal to produce about half the state’s electricity from renewable sources for three hours on March 11.” The AP adds the “division used data from the California Independent System Operator, which manages the electricity grid across 80 percent of California and part of Nevada.” The milestone was reached “when almost 40 percent of the electricity flowing across the grid came from large-scale solar power plants.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Students Win Awards With Turbine Project At Alabama Science And Engineering Fair.

The Dothan (AL) Eagle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Cook) reports that seventh graders Heath Robinson and Riley Jordan won several awards for their efficient turbine blade project at the Alabama Science and Engineering Fair. The students, who used 3-D printing and a homemade wind tunnel to design the blades, won the AIAA Special Award, a Boeing Best in Tech Award, junior best of show, and first place in the engineering category, among others.

New Initiative Encourages Teachers To Use STEM Tools.

U.S. News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/11, Mirza) reports that a new initiative – “Ignite My Future In Schools” – encourages teachers “to incorporate STEM activities into their day-to-day classroom syllabi.” A collaboration between Tata Consultancy Services and Discovery Education, the initiative “aims to help students apply computational thinking and problem-solving in their work,” US News writes. It is geared towards middle school, and “its resources are available online free of charge.” The companies “hope to engage 20,000 teachers and more than one million students over the next five years,” and have employees working as mentors in school districts in 10 pilot cities, US News adds.

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Tuesday’s Lead Stories

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