Leading the News
New York Institute Of Technology Engineering Professor Develops Gastric Function Monitor.
Innovate Long Island (NY) (5/10) reported New York Institute of Technology School of Engineering and Computing Sciences assistant professor Aydin Farajidavar received a $457,000 National Institutes of Health grant in 2015 to study the human gastric system and develop an implant system to monitor those functions. Farajidavar led a team of researchers from the University of Louisville School of Medicine and NYIT’s graduate program in a study , titled “A Novel System and Methodology for Continuous Ambulatory Monitoring of Gastric Slow Waves,” that detailed their work on a “groundbreaking wireless device that offers unprecedented monitoring of gastric functions, allowing physicians to measure and better understand slow wave activity.” Digestive Disease Week selected Farajidavar’s work as a “poster of distinction,” and he presented his work to “gastroenterologists, hepatologists and various gastrointestinal surgeons” at the Digestive Disease Week 2017 in April.
Medical Xpress (5/9) reported Farajidavar explained, “The system can help us to better understand the effect of electrical stimulation on gastric contractions and to examine a variety of hypotheses about the gastric activity.” He credited “the close collaboration between the NYIT engineering team and the University of Louisville physician team, and the patients who volunteered to participate in this study” for its success. Medical Xpress noted Farajidavar’s “research project is part of an ongoing effort in NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences’ Integrated Medical Systems laboratory to develop devices to better diagnose gastrointestinal disorders and diseases.”
Student Loan Experts Express Confusion About Loan Repayment Process.
Student loan advocates and policy experts shared with MarketWatch (5/13, Berman) “the challenges they’ve faced navigating the loan repayment process.” Persis Yu, the director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project, “knows all of the finer points of student loan law and has had the ear of some of the country’s top policy makers on this issue, and yet she still had trouble getting the system to work for her.” Her experience underscores that “if even they are struggling, where does that leave the rest of us?” Many borrower advocates accuse student loan servicing companies for failing to adequately assist borrowers, and MarketWatch noted some Democratic lawmakers have in recent months “expressed concern that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is taking steps that would make it easier for servicers with a poor track record of working with borrowers to keep lucrative government contracts.”
NYTimes: Class Of 2017 Enjoys Economic Gains, But “Deserve Better.”
The New York Times (5/13, Subscription Publication) editorializes that as “the job market for young college graduates has largely recovered to where it was in 2007,” for the Class of 2017, “those improvements offer a better starting point than was true for those who graduated in earlier post-recession classes.” However, the Times argues these gains do not “guarantee…prosperity” and the labor market “is still not showing robust signs of full employment, in which everyone who wants a job has one, prices are stable and wages are rising.” The Times concludes the Class of 2017 and other “young people deserve better,” in particular “a legal and regulatory system that safeguards against boom-and-bust cycles,” Federal support for “infrastructure, clean energy and scientific research that creates jobs and lays the foundation for prosperity,” and “increased resources for public-sector jobs that require college degrees, notably teaching” as well as “a tax system that collects enough revenue to ensure health care, child care and secure retirement.”
States Increasingly Emulating Tennessee Free-Tuition Plan.
The New York Times (5/14, Chen, Subscription Publication) reports, “A growing number of states are trying to replicate” the Tennessee Promise program, which pays for students’ tuition at the state’s community colleges. The state promoted the program “exceptionally well…emphasizing a simple yet powerful message” of free tuition and winning over school officials and community leaders. Tennessee has seen community college enrollment rise by a third, even as some of the state’s four-year colleges’ enrollment has fallen “as more students use community college as a steppingstone to a four-year degree” – which could “offer valuable lessons and caveats to New York and other places.” In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s effort to make college more accessible and affordable has as its “centerpiece” a version of the program, the Excelsior Scholarship, offering “free tuition at all public two-year and four-year institutions, with an income cap that will climb to $125,000 over three years.”
Research and Development
NASA Says It Will Not Include Humans On First Flight Of New Rocket.
Bloomberg News (5/12, Bachman) reports NASA has rejected President Trump’s idea of sending humans on “its first launch of the Space Launch System, the largest rocket in the agency’s history.” The decision is largely financial, with Bloomberg noting that adding humans to the launch would require “as much as $900 million in new funding.” Additionally, it would push back the schedule to “as late as June 2020, NASA officials said Friday.” The article notes that with the addition of humans to the flight come higher risks that “could have affected future schedules for NASA’s ultimate goal of one day landing astronauts on Mars.” The agency has already been struggling with “delays and development problems on both Orion and the behemoth SLS, initially scheduled to fly last year.”
Human Driver Habits Challenge Self-Driving Car Developers.
The AP (5/13) reported various illegal driver habits, such as the so-called “California Stop” and “Pittsburgh Left,” are “causing migraines for the people developing” self-driving cars, which are programmed to strictly abide by all traffic laws. Carnegie Mellon University computer engineering professor Raj Rajkumar, who leads the university’s autonomous car research, explained, “There’s an endless list of these cases where we as humans know the context, we know when to bend the rules and when to break the rules.” Duke University Humans and Autonomy Lab director Missy Cummings further explained, “Driverless cars are very rule-based, and they don’t understand social graces.” Experts predict it will take many years before developers of self-driving vehicles can accommodate “human behavior and local traffic idiosyncrasies,” and supplying those vehicles with “that knowledge will require massive amounts of data and big computing power that is prohibitively expensive at the moment.”
Cardiologists Using 3-D Heart Models To Lessen Surgical Risk.
STAT (5/12, Blau) reports that cardiologists are increasingly making models of the human heart with 3-D printing to do surgical planning as well as “tricky procedures faster and safer,” which is in turn allowing more high-risk patients to opt for procedures. The models are generally “made from each patient’s imaging studies – including CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds – that engineers can then send to a 3-D printer.” STAT explains how various cardiologists approach the use of the 3-D models, adding that the FDA has approved “scores” of printed medical devices, but generally “considers 3D heart models to be more like…printing a PDF image.”
IBM Predicts Demand For Data Scientists Will Significantly Increase By 2020.
Forbes (5/13, Columbus) reported that IBM formed a research partnership with Burning Glass Technologies and Business-Higher Education Forum and recently published a report which predicts that by 2020, “the number of Data Science and Analytics job listings is projected to grow by nearly 364,000 listings to approximately 2,720,000.”
Galaxy Note 7R Could Be Closer To Launch Amid Safety Concerns.
Phone Arena (5/14) reports that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7R, which many suggest could be a refurbished variant of the firm’s Note 7, has received another regulatory approval ahead of its release in China and South Korea. The Korea Herald (5/12) notes that “controversies surrounding the troubled model still linger,” and notes the refurbished model still would need to pass through additional, “more thorough reviews” that could delay its proposed shipment schedule. A representative of the National Radio Research Agency – through which the phone would need to undergo a “basic safety examination” – is quoted as saying: “If Samsung makes such a request, we plan to examine and verify the safety of the device by putting users’ safety as the top priority,”
Engineering and Public Policy
Nuclear Watchdogs Express Concerns After Hanford Tunnel Collapse.
Reuters (5/12, James) reports the tunnel collapse at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation on Tuesday “has raised concerns among watchdog groups.” Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar and former Department of Energy policy adviser Robert Alvarez warns the DOE is “fighting a losing battle to keep these plants from falling apart,” adding that delays only make them more dangerous. DOE spokesman Mark Heeter said the agency’s quick discovery of the collapse was a success, and added that “the maintenance and improvement of aging infrastructure across the Hanford site … remains a top priority.”
Nevada Senate Panel Unanimously Approves Resolution Opposing Yucca Mountain. The Las Vegas Review-Journal (5/12, Whaley) reports a Nevada Senate Panel Unanimously approve a resolution Friday that stated the Legislature’s opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The resolution now goes to the full Senate for a final vote.
EPA Settles Lawsuit Over Alaska Mine, Lets Company File For Permit.
The New York Times (5/12, Schlossberg, Subscription Publication) reports the Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement on Friday in a lawsuit over a gold, silver, and copper mine on Alaska’s Bristol Bay that was blocked under the Obama Administration. The “settlement allows the company to file a new application for a permit.” The Washington Post (5/12, Eilperin, Dennis) reports EPA Administrator Pruitt said he would not “guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome,” but promised to provide a “fair process” for the application.
States Move Forward With Limits On Greenhouse Gases.
The Washington Post (5/12, Harvey) reports lawmakers in several states have introduced legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the wake of President Trump’s threats to pull out of the Paris agreement. According to the Post, Massachusetts is leading the way with two heavily supported bills in its House and Senate. If passed, the Massachusetts law “could pave the way for success in other states.”
Utility Group Asks EPA To Reconsider Coal Ash Rules. The AP (5/12, Michael Biesecker) reports the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group filed a petition Friday asking the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider “ill-conceived and burdensome” sections of the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule. The rules impact coal power plants that “produce tens of millions of tons of coal ash each year.” Environmentalist were quick to condemn the rule, saying that removing the “protections at this point would be reckless and would put people’s health at risk.”
Massey Energy CEO Criticizes Opponents After Completing Prison Sentence For Lethal 2010 Coal Mining Accident. The Washington Post (5/12, Mufson) reports former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship “immediately took to Twitter and cable television” after completing his one year prison sentence this week to criticize “people he says unfairly blamed him for the accident that killed 29 miners in April 2010.” Blankenship accused the Mining Safety and Health Administration or prosecution witnesses of lying, and demanded an apology from Sen. Joe Manchin, who criticized him at the time of the accident.
Article Offers Suggestions On How States Should Approach Autonomous Vehicles.
Atlantic’s CityLab (5/14) reports on how states should approach autonomous vehicles. The article suggests in states that are not “already a hub for transportation companies or university research around mobility,” it may be best for them to wait for other states to go first since “it’s a lot easier to copy good policy from other states than to be the first mover.” However, states that do have a transportation industry, the article suggests it “would be wise to support local research on AV technology, as Michigan has done with MCity, an autonomous technology testing course in Ann Arbor.”
Trump Meets With Students, Celebrates Model Rocket.
The AP (5/12, Superville) reports President Trump met Friday with students from Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte, North Carolina and celebrated their model rocket named for him. A student said they named the rocket Trump “Simply because it conquers all.” Trump said the rocket “better work well,” but stated “‘they’re never going to put that on television,’ referring to the reporters who were brought into the Oval Office for the visit.” The AP adds “the students are among 100 teams scheduled to compete Saturday in the finals of the Team America Rocketry Challenge, a national competition being held in Northern Virginia.”
Anchorage School To Become City’s First STEM Elementary.
Alaska Dispatch News (5/14, Hanlon) reports that an Anchorage school “is about to become the city’s first STEM elementary.” Anchorage’s Campbell Elementary School plans to expand on “place-based learning” when it transitions “from a typical neighborhood school into the Anchorage School District’s first STEM elementary school, said principal Michelle Johansen.” Johansen is quoted saying, “It took us a lot of time to do this. We worked on it for over a year and it was really a grass-roots effort. … We have a lot of teachers and staff in my school who are very interested and also very proficient in STEM.”
Friday’s Lead Stories
• Researchers: Autonomous Cars Are Rule-Based, Don’t Understand “Social Graces.”
• Survey: Americans Losing Confidence In Higher Education System.
• Human- And Cost-Related Challenges Of Developing Self-Driving Cars Examined.
• Trump Orders ED, Other Agencies To Review Cybersecurity, Workforce-Development Efforts.
• Israel Tests Wireless Charging Roads For Electric Vehicles.
• Judge Refers Uber-Waymo Trade Secrets Case To Federal Prosecutors.
• California Officials Question Whether Trump Administration Would Derail Unified Electric Grid Efforts.