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

Leading the News

Judge Orders Uber Engineer To Cease LiDAR Activity In Partial Victory For Waymo.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Isaac, Subscription Publication) reports that while Uber on Monday “sidestepped a full shutdown of its self-driving car efforts” when District Judge William Alsup “stopped short of issuing a temporary injunction against the ride-hailing company’s autonomous vehicle program,” the judge ruled that “Anthony Levandowski, a star engineer leading Uber’s self-driving car program, must be restricted from working on a critical component of autonomous vehicle technology throughout the duration of the litigation, a setback that could hamper the company’s development efforts.” Alsup’s ruling was “mainly a victory for Waymo, the autonomous car unit spun off from Google,” the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Krisher) says, and the judge’s prohibition on Uber “using technology taken by [Levandowski] before he left Waymo is bad news for Uber and likely will hurt the ride-hailing company’s own self-driving research, according to legal experts.”

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Levine, Somerville) reports Alsup “wrote that Uber knew, or should have known, that [Levandowski] had taken Waymo files potentially containing trade secrets, and that some of the intellectual property had ‘seeped into’ Uber’s own development efforts” involving “Lidar, a key sensor technology in self-driving cars that is the crux of the current litigation.” Waymo spokesman Johnny Luu “welcomed the ruling” and said, “Competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads, not through unlawful actions.” The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, A1, Bensinger, Nicas, Subscription Publication) reports Uber has pledged to appeal the ruling.

Research and Development

Researchers Studying Value Of Drones In Climate, Weather Research.

The Enid (OK) News & Eagle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports researchers from National Severe Storms Laboratory, University of Oklahoma, University of Colorado, and Swiss company Meteomatics are conducting a two-week study into “using unmanned aircraft to observe and transmit changes in the environment. It’s a short, intense project to study the value of airborne, mobile observation systems and their application for weather prediction and more.” The project has received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation.

SUNY Poly Gets $2.25 Million NSF Grant To Support Semiconductor Education.

The Utica (NY) Observer Dispatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports the National Science Foundation is giving SUNY Polytechnic Institute a $2.25 million grant “for continued development of the Northeast Advanced Technology Education Center, with the goal of fostering opportunities for semiconductor-related education fields.” The center is set to “launch credit-bearing high-tech education and training programs over the next three years in support of the region’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem.” The Albany (NY) Times Union Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) also covers this story.

USAF, Lockheed Martin Testing Propulsion System On GPS III Satellite.

IHS Jane’s 360 Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Host) reports the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin are, according to Lockheed Martin spokesperson Chip Eschenfelder, “evaluating the propulsion subsystem on the first GPS III satellite.” He said the review, taken out of “an abundance of caution” is “a standard process for the company’s systems engineering approach to mission success.”

NASA Curiosity Engineer: Life May Have Originated On Mars.

The International Business Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports that NASA Chief Engineer for the Curiosity Rover Rob Manning said during an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/14) program aired Sunday that the rover’s discoveries indicate that life may have gotten “its foothold on Mars and took its journey to Earth and we’re all Martians.” He explained that the planet may have been “habitable before Earth was,” harboring the essential building blocks for life in liquid water three billion years ago, and microbial life could have survived a 30 million mile journey to Earth aboard a meteor. Manning cautioned that Curiosity’s discovery of conditions favorable to life isn’t conclusive proof that life indeed existed on the planet.

ASEE President’s Award
The Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California will be presented with the award at the ASEE Annual Conference in June.

Prism Podcast: The Play’s the Thing
Why were actors on the stage at the Engineering Deans Institute?

ASEE Annual Conference Video Highlights
Getting ready for the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference?  Check out ASEE TV 2016 conference highlight videos here.

ASEE Annual Conference Webinars
The webinar recordings below will help you get the most out of the ASEE Annual Conference

Conquering the Conference: Making the Most of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference
New Events and Big Changes for 2017
Navigating the OSL: Creating Your Perfect Conference

Global Developments

Scientific Project Includes Scientists From Across Mideast, Including Israel.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Achenbach) reports on the SESAME project (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) at which scientists from across the Middle East, including Israelis, “Iranians, Jordanians, Turks, Pakistanis and many others,” will work, “Muslims, Jews, Christians and atheists sharing the pursuit of knowledge.” The machine, located in Jordan, will be formally dedicated today by King Abdullah II. Eliezer Rabinovici, 70, professor of physics at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a founder of the project, said, “It’s a beacon, one lighthouse, in this era where there is killing, beheadings, gassing. We are showing a different way.” The project’s full members are Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey, and it also has observers including the US and EU. The machine was donated by Germany and renovated.

Industry News

Google To Launch Android Auto OS.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Gurman, Bergen) reports Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Monday showed off “its next step in automotive software,” an Android OS for “touchscreen car consoles and infotainment systems” that will “host popular applications, like Google Maps and Spotify, but also control car features like seat positioning and temperature.” The company will offer “live demonstrations of the operating system running on the Audi A8 and Volvo V90 SUVs” during its upcoming I/O conference. According to vice president of engineering for Android Patrick Brady, the OS will be integrated into the entire Audi and Volvo fleets, along with other automakers. Other companies have “pitched a similar system,” including BlackBerry, Samsung Electronic Co, and Toyota Motor Corp.

Engineering and Public Policy

Chao: Trump To Outline “Vision” For Infrastructure Package In Coming Weeks.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Wagner) reports in continuing coverage that Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao spoke on Monday at the US Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual Infrastructure Week, saying President Trump will announce his “vision” for an infrastructure plan in the “next several weeks.” She added, “A key feature of the infrastructure plan will be unleashing the billions of dollars in private capital available for investment in infrastructure.” The Detroit News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Laing) reports that the project will be “paid for mostly by private funding that will be stimulated by $200 billion in federal spending.” NBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports Chao explained that the “funds will be used to leverage $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years.” Politico Morning Transportation Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports Chao indicated that part of the plan would “probably, maybe” be paid for by “some sale of government assets” in addition to the direct spending during a separate appearance on Fox’s “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Transport Topics Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports Chao acknowledged that there are some “limitations” with public-private partnerships, adding, “Lower demand on rural roads may not generate enough revenue to repay private investment.” However, The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Zanona) says Chao “emphasized that the White House is committed to ensuring that rural projects are addressed in the package, saying direct funding will be included for any projects that boost gross domestic product or ‘lift the American spirit.’” According to the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15), Chao also said that the federal spending would be offset by “unspecified savings ‘in order to avoid saddling future generations with more debt.’”

Bradley: Technological Advances Have Made Pipelines Safer Than Ever.

Robert Bradley Jr., the founder and CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, writes a contributing piece for Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Bradley Jr) saying that despite the negative headlines, pipelines are the safest way to transport fossil fuels. Bradley says that technological improvements have made pipelines “safer than ever.” Further, an often overlooked aspect of the industry is that companies self-regulate because “accidents can ruin the reputation and finances of any company.” Bradley says that almost 70 percent of pipeline accidents last year only affected operator facilities, and 60 percent of leaks spilled five barrels or less.

Senate Republicans “Received Assurances” That Pro-Ethanol Bill Will Move Forward.

The Washington Examiner Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Siciliano) reports that Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) says she has “received assurances” that her pro-ethanol bill will move forward as soon as possible. Republican lawmakers from corn-producing states struck a deal last week with Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso ahead of “last week’s failed vote to repeal the Obama administration’s Interior Department regulations for limiting methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling wells on federal lands, with more Republicans than expected opposing the measure.”

Bipartisan Pair Of Senators Hold Out Hope For Broad Energy Reform Bill.

Roll Call Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Dillon) reports that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) are holding out hope that they could revive a broad energy bill aiming to update the nation’s energy policies for the first time in nearly a decade. The bill was stalled at the end of Congress’ last session. Although there is no timeline for the bill’s revival, Sen. Cantwell said, “that was a bipartisan effort that deserves to be enacted into law, and we will see that through.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Wisconsin Schools Adding More Career-Oriented Programs.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15, Johnson) reports starting next year, all Wisconsin school districts must provide both academic and career planning services for students in grades 6 to 12. “The idea is to help students see more of a connection between what they’re doing in the classroom and potential careers,” said Sharon Wendt of the state Department of Public Instruction. The move is seen as a shift in thinking for schools, which had separated academics and career-oriented education. JJ Heesch, director of Pewaukee High School’s Insight program, “said the program gives students real-world exposure to businesses and industries, access to mentors and investors, creative and critical thinking skills employers want to see in workers, and a jump-start on the networking they’ll need to do in their eventual job hunts.”

Vermont STEM Students Test Classroom-Made Catapult.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports Vermont students in the alternative Arlington School’s science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, class, tested on Thursday a catapult they constructed out of “carport steel, PVC pipes, garage door springs, bungee cords, a little wood and a shovel head.” St. Johnsbury Police Chief Clem Houde “heard the school was looking for a place to test their creation and put in a good word with town officials.” Teacher Joe Cornelius, who oversaw the project, said the catapult “took us probably three weeks to build,” beginning with an old-school design phase predominately based on trial and error. He added that the device is “not the only thing we build. We built a solar car, we built a hover-craft. The kids really like it. They really enjoy doing it and they’ve done a great job.”

West Virginia Professor’s Robotics Team Wins FIRST Chairman’s Award.

The Clarksburg (WV) Exponent-Telegram Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/15) reports the Mountaineer Area Robotics, or MARS, Team under West Virginia University physics department chair Dr. Earl Scime “won the coveted Chairman’s Award for its outreach and commitment to sharing inspiration about science, technology, engineering and math at the” For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, annual championship. Scime’s MARS teams have routinely participated in FIRST robotics competitions over the last 10 years, but “the chairman’s team plans outreach that spans the entire year” and focuses on exposing “other students to STEM fields and show them firsthand the fun and camaraderie they found with the team.” Scime said middle school FIRST Lego League teams his chairman’s team helped build “have grown from 20 to more than 110. There are more than 250 robotics programs in the state now.” He continued, “Our NASA partner at IV and V has played a critical role.”

Monday’s Lead Stories

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