Leading the News
Previously Infertile Mice Able To Reproduce With 3-D Printed Ovaries, Study Suggests.
The Guardian (UK) (5/16, Sample) reports, “Researchers created the synthetic ovaries by printing porous scaffolds from a gelatin ink and filling them with follicles, the tiny, fluid-holding sacs that contain immature egg cells.” The researchers also “found that the implants hooked up to the blood supply within a week and went on to release eggs naturally through the pores built into the gelatin structures.”
The Telegraph (UK) (5/16, Knapton) reports that “the long term aim” of the research “is to help restore fertility and hormone production in women who have undergone chemotherapy and possibly other infertility issues, such as polycystic ovaries.”
Also covering the story are Science Magazine (5/16, Kornei), Popular Science (5/16, Maldarelli), Crain’s Chicago Business (5/16, Sweeney), the Independent (UK) (5/16, Johnston), and HealthDay (5/16, Mundell).
NASFAA Report Calls For Reform Of Federal Student Aid Office.
The Washington Post (5/16, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that a new report from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators faults “minimal transparency and oversight” at ED’s Federal Student Aid office, which has allowed “a unit responsible for $1.1 trillion in federal loans and grants to operate with little accountability to students or taxpayers.” NASFAA “is urging Congress to review whether the Federal Student Aid office is subject to enough supervision by the education secretary, and whether the unit has been granted too much autonomy in setting goals, assessing its own success and awarding financial bonuses to employees.”
Zuckerberg Partnering With College Board To Promote College Success.
USA Today (5/16, Toppo) reports Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative “is about to cut loose with an undisclosed amount of cash to get millions more students into college.” The foundation announced on Tuesday that it is entering into a two-year partnership with the College Board “to expand access to ‘unique, personalized learning pathways’ that will help millions of students prepare for key college gateway tasks — tests like the PSAT, SAT and Advanced Placement courses — that will help lay out a clearer path to college.” The plan is to focus on “students in lower-income and rural areas” and “will also underwrite research on student motivation and achievement, a field popularized by work on ‘grit’ and ‘growth mindset,’ which encourages educators to praise students’ effort, not their innate intelligence.”
Former NYTimes Reporter: States Should Pay First Two Years Of Higher Education.
Former New York Times (5/16, Rivlin, Subscription Publication) reporter and Nation Institute Investigative Fund fellow Gary Rivlin laments the Excelsior Scholarship that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in April “helps only a small fraction of the state’s residents” who meet the financial criteria, does not cover living expenses, and converts grants into loans unless other stipulations are met. Education policy professors Sara Goldrick-Rab of Temple University and Nancy Kendall of the University of Wisconsin-Madison outlined “a more expansive idea: Make the first two years free for everyone who attends a community college (all of which are public) or four-year state school.” Rivlin supports their proposal because by “treating the first two years of college as an extension of high school,” the effort “would probably generate wider support than a plan meant only for the needy,” as evidenced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s marketing of his “Pre-K for All” incentive as available “to rich and poor alike.”
Senators Introduce Bill To Overturn Ban On College Graduate Tracking System.
Inside Higher Ed (5/16) reports on Monday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Orrin Hatch, Bill Cassidy, and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced the bipartisan College Transparency Act of 2017. The bill would overturn a provision in the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that banned Federal data systems that track college students’ graduation outcomes and employment. The prohibition “meant that while colleges report data at the institutional level, efforts to evaluate outcomes at a more targeted level have been stymied.” Under the proposed measure, the National Center for Education Statistics would “develop a secure data system by coordinating with other federal agencies,” prohibit any single database within ED, and “authorize the federal government to connect data it already collects.” Various organizations, including the Student Veterans of America and Institute for College Access and Success, voiced “enthusiastic support.” Yet, “its passage remains in doubt” because of opposition over privacy concerns and “philosophical differences over the role of the federal government in higher ed.”
CFPB: Majority Of Defaulting Student Loan Borrowers Not Enrolled In Payment Plans.
MarketWatch (5/16, Berman) reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report on Tuesday that found more than 90 percent of student loan borrowers who defaulted on their loans were not “enrolled in an income-driven repayment program,” suggesting “the student loan industry isn’t doing enough to protect the nation’s most vulnerable borrowers, despite lucrative government contracts that pay them to do just that, according to the consumer watchdog.” Furthermore, the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project director, Persis Yu, said the CFPB report “really questions the claim that the debt collectors are counseling borrowers into the best program instead of just steering them into the program that gets them the most money.” National Council of Higher Education Loan Resources president James Bergeron stressed that the findings underscore the necessity of simplifying and streamlining “the myriad repayment plans,” and prove “the federal government needs to do a better job of helping transition defaulted borrowers into” appropriate repayment plans.
Consumer Reports (5/16) reports the CFPB’s analysis also found nearly 50 percent of borrowers who exercised the option to “rehabilitate” their defaulted debt re-entered default within 36 months. Meanwhile, 95 percent of high-risk borrowers who exercised the option to refinance did not re-default within 12 months of enrolling. CFBP said those figures evidenced that a clearer process for helping previously-defaulted borrowers could benefit borrowers, taxpayers, and student loan companies. Consumer advocates said the findings confirm that borrowers still struggle even after securing a fresh start. In a statement, CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman Seth Frotman wrote, “When student loan companies know that nearly half of their highest-risk customers will quickly fail, it’s time to fix the broken system that makes this possible.” The article notes ED estimated more than eight million Federal student loan borrowers are in default, which is defined as failing to make payments on the debts for at least 12 months.
Research and Development
University Of Illinois Computer Professors Receive National Science Foundation Awards.
Chicago News (5/16) publishes an Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette (5/16) article that reports the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program awarded University of Illinois assistant computer science professors Aditya Parameswaran and Jian Peng with “prestigious career awards” to support their research. Parameswaran, who earned a doctorate at Stanford University and then “spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at MIT,” is researching ways to address the “challenges involved in open-ended crowdsourcing, such as helping computers figure out which human response is correct.” Peng also spent a year as an MIT postdoctoral researcher, and completed his doctorate at the Toyota Technical Institute. He has designed “efficient algorithms for biological data analysis,” and intends “to develop a new computational framework to integrate the large amounts of high-resolution data so researchers can study gene functions across species.”
National Science Foundation Awards Grant To University Of Wisconsin Spinal Tissue Lab.
On its website, WKOW-TV Madison, WI (5/16) reports the National Science Foundation awarded the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery lab with a grant “that will fund experiments to create spinal tissue in a dish for the next five years,” and apply “toward outreach, so future scientists can continue the work.” The researchers’ goal is to develop a blank spinal cell model to which doctors and scientists can add gene and DNA types and “see exactly what’s going on inside your body,” test medications, and potentially lead to future treatments. Assistant biomedical engineering professor Randolph Ashton explained that “if we have those tissues in a dish, then we can really probe them, we can throw all of the science that we know at them to really understand how to best treat you and how to best heal your ailments.”
Virginia Tech, Lowe’s Warehouse Partner In Robotic Assistance Suit Development Project.
SlashGear (5/16) reports the hardware and home improvement store Lowe’s partnered with Virginia Tech to develop robotic assistance suits to help warehouse employees more easily “lift and move heavy items,” and decrease the risk of injury. SlashGear says repetitive lifting and moving “nearly guarantees rapid fatigue and eventual injury, something businesses are looking to decrease or eliminate altogether by having machines do the hardest part of the work.” At Virginia Tech’s Assistive Robotics Laboratory, professor Dr. Alan Asbeck and a student team developed four robot exosuits that are currently being real-world tested in Lowe’s warehouses. The suits feature “carbon fiber, a bow-like pair of legs, and straps,” and once attached to a worker’s body, it supports proper lifting form and eases objects’ weights.
Samsung Making Name In Next-Gen Biologic Medicines.
The Dallas Morning News (5/16, Khan, Kim) reports the Samsung brand is “making a name as a contract manufacturer of complex medicines to treat diseases like cancer.” Samsung BioLogics Co. “is building a $740 million factory that will give it the capacity to become the No. 1 producer by volume of a class of drugs called biologics, many of which are derived from mammal cells.” The article characterizes the Samsung group as “mobilizing its expertise in semiconductor making and engineering know-how to make the way biologics are produced on behalf of Big Pharma more efficient.”
Ford CTO Says Company Delaying Plans For Hydrogen Car Release.
“While Toyota and Honda are investing heavily in hydrogen-powered vehicles, Ford has shifted its attention to electric cars,” Ford CTO Raj Nair told Business Insider (5/16, Muoio, Thompson), as he said, “a lot has changed since” the company announced an alliance with Mercedes-Benz and Nissan to develop the vehicles in 2013. Nair argued, “I think hydrogen fuel-cell technology is a very spikey technology progression and there are times that we feel like we are really progressing fast and then it’s going slow.” However, he added, “We are still investing and we are still doing research, and it’s still something that we are very interested in.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Four Renewable Groups Press DOE On Electric Grid Study.
The Hill (5/16, Henry) reports “four renewable energy groups” yesterday “pushed back” against an Energy Department “power sector review that they say threatens wind, solar and other industries.” The groups, in a letter to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, “said the agency’s study on the electric grid is ‘based on a faulty premise’ that the growing renewable energy sector is to blame for the retirement of coal and nuclear plants that, in turn, puts grid reliability at risk.” In the letter the groups wrote, “We express our disappointment that the Department has apparently chosen not to make this review — which as outlined in your memo has the potential to upend energy markets around the country — public and open to input from industry, grid operators, state regulators and other key stakeholders.” The letter was signed by the American Wind Energy Association, Advance Energy Economy, Solar Energy Industries Association and American Council on Renewable Energy.
Wind Threatening Coal’s Place In North Dakota Power Generation.
E&E News PM (5/16, Cusick, Subscription Publication) reports that coal mines and plants “are the workhorses of North Dakota’s electricity sector,” but the state is seeing the rise of wind power, a migration by power generators that is “about choosing the cheapest, most readily available generation resource, as well as projects that can be easily permitted and constructed.” While coal remains “both inexpensive and abundant in North Dakota,” it “no longer fits the ideal market profile, especially as utilities, consumers and regulators transition toward inexpensive natural gas and other low- and zero-emissions energy resources.” Still, with weather causing “rapid shifts in energy demand” for the state, utilities must have ready-reserve power, “a role the state’s mine-mouth coal plants have performed for decades.” Additionally, “utilities continue to seek ways to keep lignite at the center of their resource planning, and most of the state’s large power plants have undergone extensive environmental upgrades to meet state and federal rules concerning air and water emissions.”
South Dakota Board Of Education Approves New Standards In CTE Career Clusters.
The Yankton (SD) Press & Dakotan (5/16) reports the South Dakota Board of Education on Monday adopted new CTE standards for six career clusters: Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Arts, Audio-Video Technology and Communications; Finance; Health Science; Human Services; and Manufacturing. Work groups will assemble this summer to revise CTE standards in five more career clusters: Business Management and Administration; Government and Public Administration; Hospitality and Tourism; Marketing; and Transportation, Distribution and Logistics.
Increasing Popularity Of Top CTE Programs May Marginalize Low-Income, Minority Students.
Education Week (5/17, Gewertz) reports on the “thorny issue” of equitable access to high-quality CTE programs as “CTE experiences a resurgence of support from policymakers who consider it an overlooked avenue to higher education and the job market.” A “painful byproduct” of pushing academic rigor into CTE to “ensure that students are prepared for college as well as work” is that it has, in some cases, marginalized low-income and minority students. One education industry expert called the issue “a bit of a Catch-22, because you do want to create programs that are highly competitive, that prepare students for college … but when you start doing that, everyone wants to participate, more well-to-do families.” The article details some ways to build diversity in the programs, such as increasing outreach to lower-income towns and using lotteries.
Rural Kentucky Schools Hope Drone Complex Will Entice Best Students.
Education Week (5/17, Superville) reports a co-op of rural school districts in Kentucky are hoping the proposed USA Drone Port, “a $50 million complex where companies would design, build, and test drones and train people to operate them,” would convince the area’s brightest students to return home after college. “We know [drone technology] is a growing area of employment opportunities, and the uses are only now being discovered,” said Jeff Hawkins, the executive director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative. KVEC schools have “been building a stronger foundation for high-tech education, deploying more than $30 million in federal grants to expand courses in computer programming, computer science, coding, aeronautics, and aviation.” The proposed drone port also “dovetails with KVEC’s efforts to prepare students for jobs of the future and build multiple career pathways.” Starting this fall, KVEC will offer a “new pathway in drone design and development” that also emphasizes entrepreneurship and creativity.
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Judge Orders Uber Engineer To Cease LiDAR Activity In Partial Victory For Waymo.
• Researchers Studying Value Of Drones In Climate, Weather Research.
• Scientific Project Includes Scientists From Across Mideast, Including Israel.
• Google To Launch Android Auto OS.
• Chao: Trump To Outline “Vision” For Infrastructure Package In Coming Weeks.
• Wisconsin Schools Adding More Career-Oriented Programs.