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

Leading the News

Apple Aiming To Expand Chip Development, “Poaches” Qualcomm Engineer.

Fortune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Pressman) reports Apple has “poached” one of Qualcomm’s top engineers, Esin Terzioglu, to seemingly join the team building Apple’s A-series processing chips. News of the hire was released yesterday when Terzioglu, who “oversaw the engineering organization of Qualcomm’s core communications chip business,” announced the transition on his LinkedIn page. The Street Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Jhonsa) reports the controversial hire “has fueled fresh speculation that Apple, now in the midst of a messy legal dispute with Qualcomm, wants to develop a system-on-chip (SoC) that pairs a baseband modem (currently obtained from Qualcomm and Intel with an A-series app processor.”

Barron’s Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Ray) reports Tavis McCourt analyst Raymond James wrote to investors yesterday, stating that Apple will continue to “internalize” its processing chip resources. The McCourt note read: “The data point is the latest in a list of instances suggesting that Apple has plans to develop full SoCs in house for future mobile devices…The current A series processors lack a baseband modem and Terzioglu’s move seems to suggest that Apple is acquiring the necessary expertise to develop such technology.”

Higher Education

NSF Awards Sinclair Community College Grant To Develop Self-Driving Car Curriculum.

The Springfield (OH) News Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30) reports the National Science Foundation awarded Sinclair Community College in Ohio with “a $752,980 grant to develop curriculum and educate community college faculty on self-driving cars,” according to the NSF In its grant announcement. NSF added that Sinclair “will also monitor and document the skills and knowledge needed by the future automotive technician who will repair and maintain vehicles using a new set of skills not taught today,” and help other colleges “update their curriculum to meet the changing needs in the industry.” Sinclair will partner with General Motors and Fiat Chrystler, according to Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka. The News Sun says Sinclair Community College is already known for “its two-year drone program, referred to as unmanned aerial systems, and wants to offer a bachelor’s degree in the field.”

Treasury Union Pushes Administration To Preserve PSLF Program.

Federal News Radio (DC) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30) reports, “The National Treasury Employees Union is urging the Trump administration not to get rid of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program” as proposed in President Trump’s 2018 budget plan. The administration says the program, “which forgives remaining student loan balances for employees who work for a government or non-profit organization…unfairly favors some career choices over others. NTEU said eliminating the program would prevent agencies from recruiting top talent.”

Boston College Affordability Plan Would Cover Tuition For Low-Income Students.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30) reports Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh “have unveiled a tuition-free college program for low-income students in Boston” with the aim of allowing “eligible students to complete four-year degrees without paying tuition or mandatory fees.” The “Boston Bridge” program “will be open to 2017 high school graduates who live in the city.” The piece quotes Baker saying, “College affordability too often serves as a barrier for students in the Commonwealth seeking to complete a degree, and this program is intended to provide more opportunities for a quality education.”

Growing Number Of Start-Up Companies Offering Student Loan Assistance Benefits.

A number of start-up companies, “including LendEDU, Chegg, Mitre and Kronos, are giving student loan assistance as much weight as health-care plans in their employee packages,” a benefit the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Douglas-Gabriel) “Grade Point” calls “no small expense, but at a time when millions of young people are entering the workforce with tens of thousands of dollars in education debt, it is an enticing offer.” The Post says a growing number of companies are noticing student loan assistance programs, but a Society for Human Resource Management survey last year found only four percent of companies offer the benefit. Meanwhile, a bipartisan bill introduced by Reps. Rodney Davis and Scott Peters and currently “wending its way through Congress” calls for tax breaks for companies that offer “employees up to $5,250 a year to repay education debt, while sparing employees from being taxed on the money.”

From ASEE
ASEE Statement on 2018 White House Budget Request
The ASEE Board of Directors encourages members of the 115th Congress to follow the praiseworthy precedent set with the FY 2017 Omnibus legislation and sustain adequate funding for our nation’s engineering and scientific research efforts. Read the full statement.

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

Research and Development

University Researchers Pursue Artificial Leaf Technology As Potential Tool Against Climate Change.

On its website, NBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/31) calls artificial leaf technology “a merger of biology, physics, and engineering” that “may one day be an important weapon in the fight against climate change as well as a vital power source, especially in developing nations.” University of Central Florida chemist Fernando Uribe-Romo developed artificial leaf technology that can remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert sunlight energy “into organic compounds that can be used as fuels.” Harvard University energy professor Daniel Nocera developed a “bionic leaf” device “that uses sunlight to convert water and specially-engineered microbes into energy-dense liquid fuels.” University of Illinois at Chicago research scientist Amin Salehi-Khojin “developed another artificial leaf that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons, including liquid fuels.” NBC News says while these developments are likely “many years away from commercialization,” the “researchers pursuing them see artificial leaf technology as a potentially vital tool in the urgent fight against climate change.”

Lawrence Livermore Engineers Develop High-Speed, Diode-Based Additive Manufacturing Method.

The World Industrial Reporter Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/31) reports that Lawrence Livermore engineers “have developed a new additive manufacturing technology that uses diodes and lasers to 3D print metal objects faster than ever before.” The new method called “Diode-based Additive Manufacturing” uses “high-powered arrays of laser diodes, a Q-switched laser and a specialized laser modulator developed for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) to flash print an entire layer of metal powder at a time, instead of raster (rectangular grid) scanning with a laser across each layer.” According to the researchers, this method “paves way for large metal objects being printed in a fraction of the time which is significant for industries like aerospace and automotive, that require larger metal parts.”

MIT Researchers Report New Technique For Creating Defects In Diamond Materials.

Semiconductor Engineering Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Mutschler) reports that a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard University, and Sandia National Laboratories has reported “a new technique for creating targeted defects in diamond materials, which is simpler and more precise than its predecessors and could benefit diamond-based quantum computing devices.” In experiments, “the defects produced by the technique were, on average, within 50nm of their ideal locations.” Dirk Englund, “an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science who led the MIT team,” is quoted saying, “The dream scenario in quantum information processing is to make an optical circuit to shuttle photonic qubits and then position a quantum memory wherever you need it. We’re almost there with this. These emitters are almost perfect.”

Research Team Develops Graphene Sieve That Could Make Sea Water Drinkable.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Pollack) reports University of Manchester scientists have “developed a graphene oxide membrane that can filter even nanoparticles like common salts out of water,” making the water suitable for human consumption. University of Manchester professor of materials physics Rahul Raveendran Nair says, “The problem was that when you put the membrane in water the sieve became larger. Now we’ve solved that problem, so now we can take this salty water, put it back in our new filtration unit, where we can filter out even the smallest sodium chloride.” The UN is forecasting that, by 2025, nearly 1.8 billion people will face water scarcity, and the Manchester research team is hoping the “sieve could play a part in giving them affordable clean water.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Alabama Professors Lament Trump Budget’s “Anemic” Investment In Research.

In an op-ed for Alabama Live Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30), David Allison and Steven Austad, who are both Distinguished Professors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, write that federal investment in science and technology over the past century has “helped us prevail in times of war and prosper and progress in times of peace.” The writers tout technological innovations made by researchers in Alabama with the use of federal investment, and lament that under President Trump’s budget proposal, “this progress and innovation is at risk. The proposed budget is an anemic investment that will weaken our ability to train the upcoming generation of students and will hinder advances in medicine, technology, defense, sustainability, and agriculture.” The writers stress that “federal dollars dedicated to R&D, and education broadly, have generated jobs for millions of our fellow citizens and have elevated the financial well-being of entire states.”

Chao To “Kick-Off” Drone Conference In North Dakota.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30) reports that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will kick-off a two-day Drone Focus Conference in Fargo, North Dakota on Wednesday. Chao is one of 45 individuals that will speak at the conference, including Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND). While in the state, Chao will also “meet with representatives from Grand Forks to learn about regional research, operations and development of unmanned aircraft.”

KXMC-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Minot, ND (5/30) and KVRR-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Fargo, ND (5/30) provide similar coverage online, and the story is covered on local television by KVRR-TV Fargo, ND (5/30, 9:20 p.m. CDT) and KXMC-TV Minot, ND (5/30, 6:57 a.m. CDT).

NRC Moves Toward Licensing Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Martin) reports the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision “to restart licensing on Yucca Mountain drew immediate criticism Tuesday from lawmakers opposed to disposing high-level nuclear waste in Nevada.” On Wednesday, the NRC “is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register a request for comment on the license.” The White House Office of Management and Budget has authorized the commission to gather “information on the Nevada site.” The move “by the NRC to restart the licensing process on Yucca Mountain was criticized by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.” The NRC wants “comment from the state of Nevada, local governments and Native American tribes, or their representatives.” The Las Vegas Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Gonzalez) reports “Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects Executive Director Bob Halstead said the state received advance notice Tuesday of what appears to be a routine action by the NRC.” Halstead stated, “We have 60 days to respond, as I understand the request, and our response is voluntary.” E&E Publishing Share to
FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Subscription Publication) also offers coverage.

Republican Lawmakers Urge Action On Yucca Following GAO Report. ExchangeMonitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Leone) reports “GOP leaders of key energy panels in the House urged” the DOE and the NRC “to heed the recommendations in a Government Accountability Office report issued Friday to restart Yucca Mountain.” The report “recommended that DOE and NRC move quickly to rebuild the organizational structure and technical expertise they need to complete the process of licensing Yucca Mountain” as a spent nuclear fuel repository.

Only Nebraska Increased Electricity From Coal In Last Decade.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Loh) reports an analysis of Energy Information Administration. data found that Nebraska is the only state producing more electricity from coal than it did a decade ago, with an increase of six percent. The state has “some of America’s newest coal-fired power plants.” The state is near Wyoming’s “Powder River Basin, America’s largest and cheapest coal-producing region,” and David Bracht, director of the Nebraska Energy Office, suggested that all of the utilities being publicly owned “may have slowed its buildout of alternative energy sources.”

Legislation Aims To Pull Tax Incentives For Wind Farms Near Texas Military Bases.

Fuel Fix (TX) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Handy) reports a “controversial” bill in the Texas Senate “that would withhold state tax incentives from wind farms operating within 25 miles of military bases made it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk on Tuesday.” If he signs it, “Senate bill 277 would ideally spare risks for military bases – such as aviation hazards and radar interference – but not prevent wind farms from being developed, supporters have said.” FuelFix adds, “But the loss of a tax incentive would be enough to drive some companies away from some areas, leaving rural communities without the property tax boon that often comes with a wind farm, said Jeff Clark, president of the Wind Coalition, a pro-wind energy lobbying group.”

Advocates, Industry Welcome Release Of Energy Efficiency Standards.

Bloomberg BNA Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30, Kern) reports energy efficiency advocates and industry groups applauded the Energy Department publishing “the effective and compliance dates for direct final rules establishing stronger efficiency standards for” ceiling fans, pool pumps, air conditioners, and refrigeration products. The agency had put a hold on the standards, as still exists for standards “for air compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, power supply equipment, portable air conditioners, and commercial boilers.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Washington Students Compete In Remote-Operated Vehicle And Underwater Robot Event.

The Peninsula (WA) Daily News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30) reports more than 60 Olympic Peninsula students on 13 teams competed in the inaugural Olympic Coast Marine Advanced Technology Education remote-operated vehicles competition, held at the Forks Athletic and Aquatic Center in Washington. Participating students demonstrated their “designing, developing and piloting with remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) and underwater robots.” The students had “to pass multiple technical and safety inspections, deliver an oral presentation on their engineering design and provide a marketing display,” and for the final challenge, they completed “missions in the pool that emulated real-world situations in which ROVs complete work.” The theme of the inaugural event was “Port Cities of the Future: Commerce, Entertainment, Health and Safety,” and it was sponsored by Marine Advanced Technology Education and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

International Study Suggests Career And Technical Education May Not Benefit American Students.

Chalkbeat Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/30) reports President Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and Sen. Al Franken have “all said America’s schools need” career and technical education “in order to better prepare graduates for the economy,” suggesting “there’s wide support across the ideological spectrum for helping more students learn career-specific skills in high school.” A new international study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published in the winter 2017 edition of the Journal of Human Resources, however, cautioned, “Individuals with general education initially face worse employment outcomes but experience improved employment probability as they become older relative to individuals with vocational education.” University of Connecticut professor Shaun Dougherty maintained the study’s ability to guide US policy is limited. “Opportunities and expectations for retraining and intermittent higher education and certification look very different now, in the U.S., than they did in Europe 30-plus years ago (or now for that matter),” Dougherty told Chalkbeat. Furthermore, the results of CTE programs likely depend on how those programs are designed.

Arkansas Sends College And Career Coaches To Middle And High Schools.

Education Week Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/31) reports Arkansas “has dispatched full-time college and career coaches to the middle and high schools in 34 of its 75 counties” in hopes “that this kind of early career exposure – embedded in a career-planning process that spans middle and high school – can launch more students into its workforce and its college classrooms with a clear idea of where they’re headed.” The state’s coaching initiative also includes “a push to increase college applications and conduct summer ‘ACT academies’ to boost college-admissions-test scores and reduce remediation.” Education Week says the nation has long “embraced a ‘college for all’ mantra and focused on strengthening schools’ college advising,” but career and technical education is now receiving “renewed attention as a powerful tool to keep students interested in their studies, help them imagine their futures, and boost their chances of finishing high school and pursuing more training.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

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