Leading the News
Microsoft Developing HoloLens Prototype Built Into “Normal-Looking” Glasses.
GeekWire (5/22, Boyle) reports a Microsoft Research study on HoloLens technology – to be presented at SIGGRAPH 2017 in July in Los Angeles – “delves into the possibilities of creating a display system that looks more like sunglasses than the bulky, goggle-like systems that are currently favored for virtual reality and mixed reality,” and the glasses could “also build in a vision-correcting algorithm.”
Popular Mechanics (5/22, Grossman) reports the researchers state, “Today’s near-eye displays feature a trade-off between bulkiness and field of view.” According to the researchers, holography “is often associated with noisy, low contrast, and mono color imagery, large bench-top form factors, high bandwidth requirements, and expensive computation.”
Yet, ZDNet (5/22, Tung) reports the HoloLens prototype provides an 80-degree horizontal field of vision built into a “normal-looking” pair of glasses – “a width that usually requires headsets or helmet-sized displays.” ZDNet says, however, that “significant hurdles remain to creating a product, including figuring how to create a stereo display,” and the “current prototype is monoscopic.” Still, Microsoft managed to “create high-contrast, high-resolution, and full-color digital holograms in a near-eye display.” The company is also looking to “reproduce focal depth cues that people use when focusing on different parts of an object.”
Education Department To Limit Student Loan Servicing To One Company.
USA Today (5/22, Yu, McCoy) reports that the Education Department “will hand over the work of servicing federal student loans to one company – from the current roster of nine – in what it says” is a move that will save about $130 million over five years. Education Secretary DeVos said, “Savings are expected to increase significantly over the life of the contract. Borrowers can expect to see a more user-friendly loan servicing interface, shorter email and call response times and an improved payment application method.” However, the decision triggered “concern and criticism from student loan advocates who fear customer service would get worse.”
USA Today (5/22, Yu, McCoy) runs a question-and-answer piece on the change that says that four of the nine current companies “will bid for the contract – Navient, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Nelnet, [and] FedLoan Servicing. … Great Lakes and Nelnet have formed a joint venture to bid jointly.”
Northern Virginia Coding School Offers Students 12 Weeks Of Computer Programming Classes.
The Washington Post (5/22, Douglas-Gabriel) reports on Revature, a Northern Virginia company that offers 12 weeks of computer programming at no cost that, upon graduation, “sends its software engineers out on two-year assignments at federal agencies and banks and other corporations.” Economists say there are more openings and increased demand for graduates with computer science experience, “degree-holders often find themselves shut out of entry-level jobs that require more experience than college classes and internships have afforded.” Revature offers a “hybrid model that blends elements of a traditional apprenticeship and coding courses, with the aim of bridging the skill gap.” Joe Vacca, chief marketing officer for Reston-based Revature, said, “Companies just aren’t investing in that early-stage training, so we’re filling that gap.”
Opinion: Successful Community Colleges Partner With Local Businesses.
The co-chairs of the Aspen Institute Prize for Community College Excellence, Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana, and George Miller, a former congressman who represented California for 40 years, write in TIME (5/22) that a crucial thing that defines the best community colleges is that “they partner with businesses to make sure that what students learn has value on the job.” They write that businesses “provide internships and expensive equipment: airplanes for aviation students, robots for manufacturing students, a cadaver lab for nursing students and a remote weather station for agricultural students.” In return for their investments, employers get “a steady stream of great hires – which is no small thing at a time when U.S. companies in many sectors express difficulty finding skilled workers.”
White House Budget Proposal Would End Subsidized Student Loans, Debt Forgiveness.
The AP (5/22, Danilova) reports that a Trump Administration budget document released late Monday proposes eliminating “subsidized student loans and end student debt forgiveness for those who enter public service.” The Administration “seeks to save just over $1 billion by doing away with the subsidized student loan program.” Ending the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will save $859 million, according to the document. The proposals are expected to “face criticism amid calls to make college more affordable and as millions are struggling to pay off student loans.”
North Carolina’s Research District Sees Rise In Coding Boot Camps.
The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer (5/22) profiles North Carolina’s coding boot camps, which “provide a fast track into careers in the booming tech industry, often at a lower cost than a four-year degree.” The state’s so-called Triangle is “home to dozens of software companies like Red Hat and Citrix,” and has recently seen “a rise in coding boot camps that aim to fill the need of companies to hire tech-savvy employees.” Jessica Mitsch, the executive director of the nationwide coding boot camp The Iron Yard, commented, “The typical college curriculum just does not move at the pace of tech,” but the boot camps offer “a very fast-paced, changing environment.” The article notes community colleges often teach many of the same skills “at a cheaper price,” and some colleges and universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have launched their own coding boot camps.
Purdue Northwest Brings Mechatronics Engineering Technology Program To Indiana, Illinois.
The Chicago Tribune (5/22, Reed) profiles “an unusual Illinois-Indiana alliance,” a public-private partnership with Purdue University Northwest’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology program. The program “encompasses a blend of mechanical, electrical, computer and technology combined into one engineering degree,” and it has helped “ease an acute local engineering shortage while also getting some pretty good-paying jobs and real-world experience.” It also inadvertently brought an “economic pop” to Illinois and Indiana. The Tribune explains more than 50 regional small and mid-sized packaging-related manufacturers need “such hybrid talent” because companies like Coca-Cola, Abbott Laboratories, and Proctor & Gamble frequently “reach out to Midwest-based manufacturing companies and hire them to engineer, design and construct the equipment needed to bundle their goods.” With the support of a National Science Foundation grant, Purdue Northwest has also partnered “with the College of DuPage and Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College to train mechatronics technicians.”
Research and Development
Lithium-Ion Pioneer Leads Research On New, Longer-Lasting Battery.
NPR (5/22, Buchele) reports University of Texas material science professor John Goodenough, whose work led to the creation of the lithium-ion battery, and fellow researchers claim to have created a “new battery that may store up to five times more power than current ones.” The batteries reportedly “would charge and recharge in a matter of minutes…without exploding” and could be used to “store renewable energy to power homes, boats, drones” and “to make cheaper electric cars with a longer range.” Goodenough said, “If we can really lower the price of these batteries, there’s so much you can do with it.” NPR presents an over-simplified explanation of how the battery works, explaining that “Goodenough’s team is using a solid – a lithium glass” – as a conduit “to allow a charge to flow between the positive and negative sides.” The researchers “say this glass along with a new design allows their battery to perform so much better.” Princeton mechanical engineering professor Dan Steingart, a critic, said, “If you could accomplish what this paper claims, it would rewrite the way we think about chemistry.”
Researchers Find Graphene On Silicon Carbide Can Store Energy.
Nanowerk (5/22) reports researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have found that “by introducing defects into the perfect surface of graphene on silicon carbide,” they “increased the capacity of the material to store electrical charge.” Mikael Syväjärvi, principal research engineer at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology and co-author of the article, which was published in the scientific journal Electrochimica Acta, said, “If we can change the properties of the material in a controlled manner, it may be possible to tailor the surface for other functions. It may be possible, for example, to create a sensor that has its own built-in battery.”
Navy Commander Is Developing Search-And-Rescue UAVs Capable Of Saving Overboard Sailors.
Stars And Stripes (5/22, Olson) reports Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Keithley is working with researchers from the University of Hawaii’s Applied Research Laboratory and the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications to develop search-and-rescue UAVs that are capable of finding and hovering over an overboard sailor. Star And Stripes reports that Keithley’s idea took shape after watching a demonstration of UAVs used for mapping underwater coral reefs and talking about that demonstration with Chris Bretz, “iLab manager and a SUBPAC innovation adviser with Booz Allen Hamilton.”
Toyota, Tech Firms Experimenting With Blockchain For Driverless Cars.
Reuters (5/22, Chavez-Dreyfuss) reports Toyota Research Institute, which is wholly owned by Toyota Motor North America, announced a partnership on Monday “with MIT Media lab and five other companies to explore blockchain technology for the development of driverless cars.” In a statement, Chris Ballinger, Toyota Research Institute’s director of mobility services and chief financial officer, said, “Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles. … Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal.” According to Reuters, “Toyota is also using blockchain to lower car insurance rates.”
Report: Advances In Auto Technology Will Force Insurance Industry To Adapt.
Fortune (5/18) reports that a new report from Accenture indicates that as artificial intelligence and autonomous technology advance in the automobile market, “the overall auto insurance will actually grow in the future, creating $81 billion in new revenue between 2020 and 2025.” The report says “self-driving cars will lead to a big drop in individual insurance premiums,” but says “that drop will be more than offset by new categories of car insurance, especially ones related to cybersecurity, which Accenture says will be worth $12 billion in 2025.”
The Insurance Journal (5/19) reports that the report says “insurance coverage for autonomous vehicles will bring $81 billion in new premiums to the insurance industry over the next eight years,” saying there will be three new lines of insurance products related to “cybersecurity, product (software and hardware) liability and public infrastructure insurance for autonomous vehicles.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Investment Firm: Sale Of Equipment Would Stop Complaint Over Chinese Solar Cells.
Bloomberg News (5/22, Ryan) reports SQN Capital Management, which is “bankrolling the U.S. trade complaint by Suniva” against cheap imported solar cells from China told a Chinese chamber of commerce that should Suniva’s solar-manufacturing equipment, which SQN financed, be sold, “the company’s assets would be liquidated – leaving no one left to pursue the trade complaint.” Solar contractor Swinerton Renewable Energy submitted the SQN letter to the International Trade Commission, arguing the complaint “appears to be less of an effort to protect a U.S. industry and jobs than a desire by speculators to recoup their failed investment.”
California Urged To Regain Leadership In Wind Energy.
American Wind Energy Association California Caucus Director Danielle Osborn Mills, in an op-ed in the Sacramento (CA) Bee (5/22, Mills), writes, “California is at risk of falling behind” in producing wind power. Mills touts new investments in wind as creating jobs, removing the carbon-content of imported electricity, enhancing electrical reliability, and saving consumers money. She concludes, “Adding more wind energy is the most cost-effective way to create the clean, prosperous future we envision.”
Consortium Of Eastern, Southern Universities Participate In National Solar Energy Competition.
Fuel Fix (TX) (5/22, Handy) reports Texas Southern University and “a consortium of 13 other eastern and southern universities” are competing for $1 million Department of Energy grant to help fund solar power projects for low income households. Texas Southern will work with the over universities over the next 18 months “to develop business plans for community solar projects in Houston.” The consortium will also develop “plans to create job training for solar installation, a critical piece of the competition due to the growth in solar jobs in the U.S.”
Qualcomm Shows Off Electrical Vehicle Charging On The Go.
The San Diego Union-Tribune (5/22, Freeman) reports that wireless charging on the go remains an “unproven technology,” but Qualcomm last week “demonstrated its vision of a dynamic electric vehicle charging on a test track in France, showcasing that progress is being made toward recharging while in motion.” The company said Qualcomm Halo wireless electric vehicle charging system can charge “Renault Kangoo electric vehicles on a 100-meter test track at highway speeds, delivering 20 kilowatts of power along a track.” The Union-Tribune mentions the Oak Ridge National Laboratory last year demonstrated a 20 kilowatt charging system.
Toyota USA Foundation Awards $1.7 Million Grant To San Antonio STEM School.
The San Antonio Express-News (5/22) reports the Toyota USA Foundation awarded San Antonio’s Southwest Independent School District a $1.7 million grant on Monday to support the Southwest Legacy High School’s science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, programs. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas also “donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of robotic machines and small autonomous vehicles.” The high school is slated to open in August, and it is poised to become the second school in San Antonio designated as a Center for Applied Science and Technology, or CAST, school. Mayor Ivy Taylor praised Toyota for its “steadfast commitment” to San Antonio, and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff lauded the grant as “an impressive, bold and long overdue step forward to preparing our young people for careers of the future.”
Toyota, Michigan Science Center Unveil STEM-Oriented Theater In Detroit.
The AP (5/22) reports Toyota Motor North America and the Michigan Science Center unveiled the $1.4 million Toyota 4D Engineering Theater in Detroit on Monday. The center will provide “science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning through programs and films,” and it features “a state-of-the-art HD projection system with 3D viewing capabilities and enhanced space and lighting.” The theater will open to the public on Saturday.
Washington High School Team Advances To FIRST World Robotics World Championship.
The Kitsap (WA) Sun (5/22) reports five students from Washington’s Shelton High School advanced for the first time to the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championship. To attend the competition in Houston, the team raised nearly $20,000 in only a week and a half. High school senior Jacob Hunter, a first-time participant, stated, “When I joined robotics, all I knew how to do was to code” but “nothing about wiring or anything like that.” Now, after participating in the challenge, he “can basically take apart that entire robot and put it back together.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• US Court Of Appeals Strikes Down FAA’s Drone Registry Requirement.
• Education Department To Contract With Single Company For Student Loan Servicing.
• “In-Depth Look” At Samsung Galaxy S8 Showcases Major “Breakthroughs In Engineering.”
• Wyoming Wind Project Targets Coal Workers As Trainees.
• WPost: Zinke Should Be Cautious In Reforming Methane Rule.
• Idaho Issues New School Science Standards.