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

Leading the News

Trump Directs DeVos To Review Federal Role In Education.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Superville) reports that President Trump has signed an executive order “that aims to reduce the federal government’s role in K-12 education.” Education Secretary DeVos has 300 days “to identify areas where Washington has overstepped its legal authority in education, and modify and repeal regulations and guidance from her department, if necessary.” The President said, “We know that local communities do it best and know it best. The time has come to empower parents and teachers to make the decisions that help their students achieve success.” The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Green, Subscription Publication) reports that DeVos called the order “a ‘welcomed opportunity’ and ‘a clear mandate to take that real hard look at what we’ve been doing at the department level that we shouldn’t be doing, and what ways we have overreached.’”

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Toppo) says that Trump, “like many Republicans, has vowed to shrink the Education Department’s role in how schools and colleges operate,” and Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports that “supporters cheered” the review “as the first step in creating more local control in education.” The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Brown) reports that Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform said the “executive order brings ‘welcome attention to a much-overlooked problem of behavior that has festered through all administrations.’” The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Resmovits) reports “it is unclear, however, whether an executive order would in any way expand the limits of DeVos’ authority.”

CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Merica) reports the order is “in line with DeVos’ long record advocating for more local control of schools, something the top Republican donor has done for decades through her political giving.” A White House official said, “We will make those decisions once the report has concluded,” after being asked how the order empowers DeVos. At the end of the review, according to the order, DeVos will be asked to “rescind or revise any regulations that are identified” as oversteps. CNN says, “in particular, the order asks for DeVos to review the Every Student Succeeds Act, an Obama-era education law, and Common Core, education standards that were initially adopted by most states but have drawn the ire of conservative critics in recent years.”

NBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports “the Department of Education’s Bob Eitel is charged with leading a regulatory task force and submitting a report at the end of the 300-day period.” NBC says “Eitel is a former lawyer for Bridgepoint Education Inc., a for-profit education services company which was forced last year to forgive the debts and refund payments to thousands of students, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

In a separate report, the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Noon) says “Sandoval said some state leaders have felt increasingly constrained by rules sent down from Washington and heralded the initiative to reduce education mandates.” He said, “It will allow governors across the nation to ensure that all states serve all students from all backgrounds.” The AP explains “the Republican governor is pushing Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature to implement a school voucher program to provide public dollars for parents to spend on private schooling.”

The Deseret (UT) News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, O’Donoghue) also reports Utah Gov. Gary Herbert “attended the rollout of a directive to analyze federal education rules impacting states.” The News says “Herbert praised the Trump administration’s willingness to engage governors and other local leaders on issues that have direct impact on the lives of everyday Americans.”

Reporting similarly are the Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Miller), the Huffington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Klein), U.S. News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Camera), UPI Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Ware), the New York Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26), the Conversation (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26), Idaho Education News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26), the Seventy Four Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26), Diverse Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26), KSL-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Salt Lake City (4/26), and the Washington Examiner Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26).

First Lady Joins President, DeVos At Event Honoring Teachers.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Superville) reports that President Trump “has recognized the National Teacher of the Year, and says nothing is more important than being a teacher.” Sydney Chaffee of Boston’s Codman Academy “holds the honor for 2017.” The President “welcomed teachers of the year from all US states and territories to the Oval Office.” Their visit coincided with the First Lady’s birthday, “and she joined the president and Education Secretary DeVos for the event. The teachers apparently sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the first lady.”

Higher Education

Upward Bound Applications Denied Over Formatting Errors.

The Chronicle of Higher Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports “over the past few weeks at least 40 colleges and organizations with…Upward Bound programs have also had their grant applications summarily rejected by the U.S. Department of Education for running afoul of rules on mandatory double-spacing rules, use of the wrong font, or other minor technical glitches.” The report says all four members of the Maine congressional delegation have sent a “letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, [urging] the department to ‘apply some common sense’ to the Upward Bound competition and read and score the university’s application.” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) says “DeVos is aware of the issue, and that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is now organizing to demand a fix, but she has yet to reply to their inquiries.”

Reporting similarly are the New Orleans Times-Picayune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) and the Missoulian (MT) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26).

Higher Ed Observers Praise Appointment Of James Manning At Department Of Education.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/27) reports “recent personnel choices at the Department of Education have received scrutiny for connections to private industry and personal ideologies at odds with the mission of their office. But the appointment of James Manning, a career public official, has drawn a different sort of reaction.” The report says “Manning was named acting under secretary of education last week, one of nine hires officially announced by the department.” Meanwhile, “the details of his role are not entirely clear, but former officials who have worked under Republican and Democratic administrations described Manning as an administrator with a broad skill set and a deep understanding of the workings of the student financial aid system.”

University Of Phoenix Names New President.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports “the University of Phoenix announced Tuesday that it has hired Peter Cohen as the university’s president.” The report say “Cohen arrives from McGraw-Hill Education, where he most recently has been the company’s executive vice president.” The report explains the school’s parent company “Apollo in February was purchased by a group of private investors for $1.14 billion” and “the deal was approved by the federal government and an accreditor amid some controversy, in part because of the role of Tony Miller, a former official in the Obama administration’s Education Department.” Inside Higher Ed says “Miller is COO and a partner of the Vistria Group, one of Apollo’s new owners, and is now chairman of the company’s board.”

CFPB: Navient Most Complained-About Financial Firm In America.

CBS News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Picchi) reports “student-loan company Navient ranks as the most-complained-about financial services company in America, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, “Student loan servicers play an important role in helping millions of people manage the loans they take out to pursue an education. … Unfortunately, borrowers continue to report difficulties and setbacks as they try to work with their servicers to manage their loan debt.” CBS reports “Navient saw the greatest percentage increase in monthly average complaint volume between two three-month periods a year apart, Nov. 2015-Jan. 2016 to Nov. 2016-Jan. 2017. … Complaints against Navient surged more than 800 percent during those time periods, reaching a three-month average of 1,439 complaints for the most recent three-month period.”

CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) also reports “loan servicing program is riddled with problems, making it difficult for borrowers to get information, correct errors with their loans, and enroll in repayment programs.” But, CNBC says, “earlier this month, education secretary Betsy DeVos ordered the Education Department to halt a series of Obama administration efforts intended to streamline the struggling program.”

Navient CEO: Prospective College Students Need More Information. Jack Remondi, president and CEO of Navient, writes at The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) in its “Pundits Blog” that “if we want to meaningfully reduce student loan defaults, it is essential that young Americans receive information about the total cost of education and value of their education before they arrive on campus.” He says “students have the need for more information with approximately three-quarters interested in or open to receiving personalized advice based on their financial aid forms.” Remondi says “the good news is there has been progress in improving information flow to potential college students.” Specifically, “the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have developed tools to help students assess the costs of college and the impact of student loans.” He goes on to make three specific recommendations policymakers that include counseling, transparency, and disclosure.

From ASEE
Lisa Benson Named Editor of Journal of Engineering Education
Benson, a faculty member at Clemson University, succeeeds Michael Loui as editor of the scholarly journal. Read the announcement here.

Stephanie Farrell Elected President-Elect
ASEE members elected Rowan University’s Stephanie Farrell to the position of President-Elect in our recent Board elections. She will serve one year in this role and assume the presidency in June of 2018.

ASEE Elects Seven Officers to its Board of Directors
The board members will begin their terms at the society’s annual conference in June in Columbus.

Research and Development

Honda To Invest $124 Million For Wind Tunnel At Transportation Research Center In Ohio.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/24) reports Honda intends to invest $124 million to establish a wind tunnel facility at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, according to a statement from the president of Honda R&D Americas Inc. The groundbreaking is scheduled for this summer.

Industry News

Engineering Firm Exec: EPA’s UAS Policy Leaves Environmental Industry At A Standstill.

Bloomberg BNA Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Carignan) reports Maser Consulting UAS Technologies Manager James Oliver said that the environmental industry is unable to take advantage of UAS technologies due to the EPA’s deciding not accept any data collected from an EPA site via UAS. Oliver said that the EPA’s policy is “kind of holding back the whole environmental industry related to compliance and information required under EPA permits, because you’re not able to use those sensors or technologies.”

Automotive Trade Group Board Members To Meet With Chao, Pruitt.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Shepardson) reports board members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers are set to meet Thursday with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. The meeting comes as the Department of Transportation and the EPA begin the review requested last month by President Trump of Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards for 2022-2025. According to Reuters, Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, earlier this month “said automakers hope to reach a deal with…the Trump administration over vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Automakers want ‘rational, predictable, stable policy,’ not a rollback of the existing standards, Bainwol said.”

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Carter) reports California and New York have both “threatened to set fuel efficiency standards on their own if Trump weakens” the Obama-era standards, “which could hamper” efforts to “negotiate a federal standards deal.” According to The Hill, both Trump and automakers are seeking “a nationwide standard to reduce costs for complying with the” efficiency standards.

Engineering and Public Policy

Tech CEO Argues H-1B Program Needed To Fill Positions At Rural Company.

Paul Blough, CEO of Blough Tech, writes at Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Blough) that he has hired his “second H-1B employee” explaining “If I did not hire an immigrant worker in my firm, then that position would go unfilled.” The position was Senior Network Engineer, and Blough argues that generally “H-1B employees are vital to tech companies in rural areas.” That’s because, says Blough, many US tech workers are not interested in living and working in a rural county, especially if they are paid less, and, adds Blough, “there is a 2% unemployment rate in our industry.”

Continuing Coverage: Administration Reviewing Proposals For Infrastructure Plan.

In continuing coverage of the Administration’s infrastructure plan, the CBS Evening News (4/26, story 3, 1:55, Pelley) reported Amtrak “blames massive under-funding” from the Federal government for the “two derailments and two power failures around New York’s Penn Station” during the past month. “Part of the problem,” explained correspondent Elaine Quijano, “can be found beneath the Hudson River inside a train tunnel more than 105 years old.” The tunnel’s walls are “crumbling,” and it suffers from water leakage that shorts out the power. Quijano said, “Amtrak has proposed a solution to fix the tracks and build a new tunnel under the Hudson River, but it would cost over $20 billion. New York and New Jersey have offered to pay half the cost if the federal government pays for the rest, a proposal now being considered by the Trump Administration.”

Sen. Carper Discusses “Baseload,” Infrastructure Funding With Chao. Politico Morning Transportation Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Snyder, Gurciullo) reports Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), a member of both the Environment and Public Works and Finance committees, met with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Tuesday morning. Carper said he was “particularly pleased to meet with her given my committee assignments,” and “said they had a ‘lovely conversation’” in which “he talked to her about ‘baseload.’” Carper explained, “Like in the utility business, you need baseload…we need baseload for transportation infrastructure so we can actually pay for stuff.”

Infrastructure Plan Likely To Be Released This Summer, Rep. Graves Says. Transport Topics Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Mulero) reports the Administration’s “long-term funding proposal” for its infrastructure reform package “will likely be unveiled early in the summer, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), a senior transportation policymaker, said April 26.” Transport Topics adds, “Citing Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on the timing, Graves said he was told to expect a plan that would provide transportation authorizers on Capitol Hill about two months to review specific proposals before leaving Washington for the August recess.”

Former Hawaii Governor Urges Administration To Stop Funding Honolulu Rail Project.

KGMB-TV Honolulu (4/26, 5:03 a.m. HST) reported in continuing coverage of “the anti-rail ad” written by former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano and “published in the Washington Post last week,” that Cayetano’s call for President Trump to cease funding the Honolulu rail project “is getting the attention that was desired by critics.” While John Hart, a communications professor at Hawai’i Pacific University, said “this is the last best chance, if you’re anti-rail, to see [the project] stopped,” Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, “a former member of the Rail Authority Board, says that she sees minimal impact because the Trump Administration hasn’t appointed new leadership at the Federal Transit Administration.” KGMB-TV Honolulu (4/26, 5:03 a.m. HST) reported Cayetano’s letter was also sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Trump Budget Cuts Would Threaten $38B In Transportation Projects, Report Suggests.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Zanona) reports President Trump’s proposed budget cuts “would jeopardize $38 billion worth of planned public transportation projects,” according to a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Economic Development Research Group. Further, the report suggests the budget proposal, “if enacted, would threaten 800,000 construction and related jobs associated with transit projects that are currently in the pipeline, as well as 300,000 longer-term jobs associated with economic productivity.”

California Judge Permits High-Speed Rail Funding.

In its “The Latest” briefing, the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports California Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei denied a petition “to temporarily block the state from spending about $1.25 billion in high-speed rail bonds” on its bullet train project. Yet, Cadei “did not immediately rule on their underlying challenge to the $64 billion high-speed rail project after hearing arguments Wednesday.” The Visalia (CA) Times-Delta Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) also covers this story.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Technology-based Curricula Helps Colorado Students Succeed.

The Colorado Springs (CO) Independent Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports “the Colorado Department of Education has academic standards for everything from mathematics to dance, but it took action by the Colorado Legislature to get the ball rolling on technology.” The report explains that “during the 2016 legislative session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 16-1198 requiring CDE to develop and adopt (voluntary) computer science standards for the secondary grades by July 2018.” The Independent says “lawmakers recognize that in many high schools, computer science and coding classes are electives that don’t count toward graduation, so few students take them. The new law addresses the problem by allowing schools to count tech courses as credits in mathematics or science.”

Arizona Governor Cites Teacher Shortage To Defend Lowered Training Standard.

The Arizona Daily Star Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports “Gov. Doug Ducey is defending controversial legislation he sought — and is expected to sign — which would allow more people without formal teacher training to lead a public school classroom.” The report says “existing law already allows people who have expertise in science, technology, engineering or math to teach. SB 1042 would open it up to anyone who has ‘expertise in a content area or subject matter.’” The Daily Star says “it goes on to exempt the person from having to take a test of professional proficiency, leaving much of the decision on who is qualified up to local school superintendents rather than the state Department of Education.” Ducey said, “We have a teacher shortage in the state of Arizona. … We’ve got some very high qualified, educated people in our community that have expressed interest in teaching.”

Snyder Asks Private Sector To Help Build K-12 Talent Pipeline.

Crain’s Detroit Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Van Hulle) reports “Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday called on business leaders and teachers to jointly lead on filling up Michigan’s workforce pipeline, a marriage of education and industry that he believes could yield creative solutions to the state’s talent shortage.” Snyder told attendees at the Governor’s Education and Talent Summit in Lansing that the goals are twofold: “helping teachers move away from traditional lecture-style lesson plans in favor of experiential learning, and getting the private sector more engaged with what happens in the classroom.” Crain’s says “Snyder’s remarks follow the March release of recommendations from the 21st Century Education Commission he appointed, which include suggestions related to teacher training, accountability and school funding to ensure that students graduate high school armed with skills that will help them compete in today’s job market.”

Reporting similarly are WLUC-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Marquette, MI (4/26) and MLive (MI) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26).

Officials Discuss Changes To Alabama’s Science Curriculum.

The Huntsville (AL) Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Roop) reports that Dr. Bruce Alberts, a biochemist who headed the National Academy of Sciences, recently discussed the new way Alabama is teaching science at Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology while “Dr. Neil Lamb, the institute’s vice president for educational outreach, talked about Alabama’s approach.” The Times explains a model “where students do most of the talking in class, is included in the Next Generation Science Standards devised by teachers nationwide” and that “Alabama’s new science standards follow the model.” The Times reports “they were approved by the State Board of Education in 2015 and went into effect with the 2016 school year.” Alberts said the focus is not just on facts, but “how to students learn them in the same ways scientists make discoveries – analyzing data, using that data to draw conclusions, arguing what does the evidence tell us, how do you design experiments to help test those theories and how do you communicate that.”

California Students Compete In Robotics Competition.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Vega) reports “after weeks of trial and error, Oak View Elementary School students showcased their robot-building skills Tuesday in the Ocean View School District’s third annual Robotics Competition.” The Times says “about 150 students from Mesa View and Vista View middle schools and Oak View, Lake View and Westmont elementary schools competed at Mesa View in Huntington Beach.” The report explains “for most of the schools, it’s a yearly event. But for Oak View Elementary, it was a completely new experience.” The Times reports that “in the end, Oak View made it to the semifinals of the competition. Vista View Middle School took top honors.”

Ward Melville Junior Wins BNL Model Bridge Contest.

Newsday (NY) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Ebert) reports Andrew Zhang, a junior at Ward Melville High School, “won first place in Brookhaven National Laboratory’s 2017 Model Bridge Contest last month.” Students from area high schools built “about 200 model bridges intended to be ‘simplified versions of real-world bridges,’ a lab official said.”

New Jersey Robotics Team Takes On World Championships.

The New Jersey Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports “thirteen students from Newton High School’s robotics team, Aperture, are headed to the FIRST Robotics Competition international championships in St. Louis, from April 26 to 29.” The Herald says “students will meet and network with other teams, attend workshops, explore the diversity in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) across the world and have the opportunity to meet special guests involved in engineering and science.” The report says “over 400 teams and about 30,000 students from across the globe are expected to attend.”

Volkswagen Sponsors Technical Education For High School Students.

The Hechinger Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Dobo) reports on the Mechatronics Akademie in Hamilton County, Tennessee, “a modern iteration of career and technical education for high school students.” The report says, “created through a partnership between the local department of education, the Volkswagen Chattanooga factory and Chattanooga State Community College, it uses online and in-person instruction in an out-of-school setting to prepare students who might not pursue higher education after high school.” The Report explains “the 26 students, from four local public high schools, report to school at the Volkswagen plant, a major new employer in the region” where they spend mornings in “lab time” and afternoons “work in a hands-on setting at the Volkswagen plant.”

SAIC Interviews Cookeville High Student.

The Cookeville (TN) Herald-Citizen Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, McReynolds) reports “a small, but growing number of students” at Cookeville High in Tennessee “are enrolling in career and technical education classes.” The article cites how student Ben Cobbett “has an interview this week with Science Applications International Corp., a premier technology integrator in the technical, engineering, intelligence and information technology sectors, which announced earlier this month it is bringing 300 high-paying jobs to Cookeville.”

Also in the News

Education Startup EverFi Raises $190 Million.

Fortune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26) reports “when Tom Davidson served as a state legislator for a small district in southern Maine two decades ago, he became intimately familiar with the byzantine, bureaucratic, and often, frankly, subpar sausage-making that goes into bankrolling education at a local level.” Fortune says “Davidson took his learnings to the private sector and founded EverFi, an education software startup, in 2008.” Meanwhile, “on Wednesday, EverFi will announce that it has raised $190 million in new funding from a host of magnates to help bring schooling into the digital age.” Fortune says “the round marks one of the largest deals to date in the area of education technology, also known as ‘ed tech.’” Fortune explains “the company sells software subscriptions to schools and businesses that help teach financial literacy…responsible college behavior…corporate compliance…and other programs.”

China, European Space Agency Discussing Moon Outpost.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/26, Brown) reports representatives of China and the European Space Agency are in talks for “potential collaboration on a human outpost on the moon and other possible joint endeavors,” according to a spokesman for the European agency and Chinese media reports. The secretary general for China’s space agency, Tian Yulong, “first disclosed the talks about the envisioned lunar base in Chinese state media,” and they were confirmed Wednesday by Pal Hvistendahl, a spokesman for the European Space Agency.

NYTimes A1: Chinese Carrier’s Launch Sign Of Progress. The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/25, A1, Buckley, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier “slipped into the sea for the first time on Wednesday, after days of publicity celebrating the impending launch as a milestone in President Xi Jinping’s drive to extend China’s military reach far beyond its shores.” China’s carriers “are no match in size, power and endurance for those of the United States Navy,” but this week’s launch “conveyed that China intended to build a navy that could not be beaten by other Asian countries.”

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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