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

Leading the News

New iPhone Software To Include “Do Not Disturb” Feature For Drivers.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Snider) reports that iOS 11 will include a safe-driving feature dubbed “Do Not Disturb” that lets allows drivers to enter a driving mode while they’re behind the wheel. Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi “announced the new feature as part of its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose.” USA Today adds, “Once the feature is turned on, your iPhone can tell when you may be driving and automatically mute your notifications so your screen remains dark.” Business Insider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5) reports the “much-desired new safety feature” is “intended to cut down on distracted driving.” In addition, you’ll “be able to set an automatic text response that will go out while the feature is on to notify your friends and family members that you’re behind the wheel.”

Higher Education

Engineering Professionals Offer Advice For Interns.

In a piece for Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5), Natalie Bartlett, a program director at Rough Draft Ventures, General Catalyst’s student venture program, writes about the difficulties that engineering and technology students can face in making the most of their internships. She presents advice from a number of people working in the industry for students regarding making connections, focusing on more than narrow skill sets, and asking for assistance when needed.

Deadline Approaching For Decision On Higher Education Rules.

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5) reports that ED is facing a “July 1 deadline to take action on two major Obama-era rules that affect colleges and universities, particularly for-profit schools,” noting that borrower defense to repayment regulations and a ban on mandatory arbitration agreements at colleges are set to take effect on that date. “DeVos last month told Congress that she was ‘studying carefully’ how to proceed with the regulations and would ‘have something further to say on that within the next few weeks.’” Citing unnamed sources, the piece says ED may be considering “further delays to both sets of rules as it considers opening new negotiated-rulemaking sessions to rewrite them.”

USC Takes More Transfers Than Other Top Schools.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Xia) reports that while transfer students are rare at many elite private colleges, the University of Southern California “accepted 1,505 transfers from 350 colleges” in the fall of 2015. Some 800 came from community colleges, most used financial aid, and “many were the first in their families to attend college.” The piece reports that the schools efforts to recruit and accept transfer students has shifted demographics: “The campus is no longer majority white; about 23% of undergraduates are eligible for Pell Grants, federal financial aid for low-income students.”

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

UMn Researchers Develop Inks For 3D-Printed Stretchable Tactile Sensors.

Nanowerk Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5) reports University of Minnesota researchers “developed a series of novel inks, which can be cured at room temperature with tunable printability, high flexibility, electrical conductivity, and sensitivity.” Led by professor Michael McAlpine, the team writes in Advanced Materials that “the inks were used to manufacture 3D tactile sensors under mild conditions on a free-form surface using multimaterial 3D printing and inverse engineering techniques.” Nanowerk states that the research “offers a proof-of-concept approach for the next generation of wearable devices.” The authors forecast that their “methodologies will open new routes to fabricating various sensors with the potential for advancing prosthetic skins, bionic organs, and human–machine interfaces.”

Deep Space Industries Creates Regolith Simulant For NASA.

The Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Borkhataria) reports that a company called Deep Space Industries (DSI) has produced regolith simulant, a dirt “that simulates the material found on an asteroid or the moon,” in response to a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) call for proposals. The company recently delivered 3.5 gallons of the product to NASA for use testing technologies such as “metal extraction for 3-D printing of parts, oxygen for life support, and the potential health effects of asteroid dust particles.” DSI analyzed meteorites to determine their mineral composition and recreated the mixture using powdered Earth rocks.


Maryland County Agrees To Settle Female Engineer’s Discrimination Lawsuit.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Hernández) reports that the Prince George’s County government agreed to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit in which a female engineer with the county’s Department of the Environment “argued that her male colleagues, one of whom had less experience, were paid more than she was to do equal work.” The county will pay the engineer “$139,633 in lost wages and increase her salary by $24,723 a year.” In addition to the settlement, the county “agreed to a three-year consent decree that includes hiring a consultant to review the agency’s salary scales and policies.” The country will “also have to report to the EEOC on how it handles future complaints.”

Drop In Indian IT H-1B Approvals Seen As Unconnected With Administration.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Breland) reports, “India-based IT firms experienced a significant drop in high-skilled visa petitions in the 2016 fiscal year, a change that researchers think that has very little to do with the election of President Trump and his criticism of U.S. immigration policy.” Research from the National Foundation for American Policy is cited saying the seven largest firms reported a 37-percent decrease in H-1B petitions approved. The NFAP “posits that the drop is the result of trends toward cloud computing services and artificial intelligence, which reduce the need for workers as well as a decision on the part of companies to beef up their domestic workforces. They argue that it’s these factors, and not Trump’s victory in November, that are responsible for the changes.”

Global Developments

China Seeks To Dominate Clean Power Technologies.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Bradsher, Subscription Publication) reports on “clean energy” projects in China, which the Times says is attempting to “reshape the world order in renewable energy as the United States retreats.” China is seeking to become “the energy partner of choice for many nations” and “is capitalizing on the leadership vacuum left after President Trump” announced the US withdrawal from the Paris accord. Beijing is hosting the Clean Energy Ministerial this week and both Energy Secretary Rick Perry, “an enthusiastic supporter of fossil fuel industries,” and California Gov. Jerry Brown “a vocal supporter of renewable energy” will attend. China, says the Times “is already dominant” in some areas, producing “two-thirds of the world’s solar panels and nearly half of the wind turbines.” Indeed, “extremely cheap Chinese panels have driven dozens of Western companies out of business.”

Industry News

Apple Struggling To Make Vital AI Products.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Dwoskin) reports in its “The Switch” blog that Apple is “struggling to find its voice in AI,” saying that according to analysts, Apple’s success “in building great artificial-intelligence products is as fundamental to the company’s next decade as the iPhone was to its previous one. But the tech giant faces a formidable dilemma because the nature of artificial intelligence pushes Apple far out of its comfort zone of sleekly designed hardware and services.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Agency Studying Effects Of Drilling On West Texas Springs.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/2) reports the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is studying environmental impact of “oil and gas drilling on the springs that feed a famous pool at Balmorhea State Park in West Texas.” The AP reports that state park system chief Brent Leisure said “he could not remember ever launching a similar effort in another of the state’s 95 parks, historic sites or natural areas. Parks biologists, hydrologists, geologists and administrators have mounted an in-depth, multi-year effort to monitor plants, fish, insects and water.”

Budget Cuts Would Undermine Study Of Fracking’s Effect On Environment.

E&E Publishing Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Subscription Publication) reports that the Trump Administration’s budget cuts may harm the Interior Department’s ability to study the environmental effects of unconventional oil and gas development. While the budget shows a $1.5 million increase for the Energy and Minerals Mission Area, the bump is a result of a funding transfer for carbon sequestration research. In effect, the Energy Resources Program and the Mineral Resources Program would face a 2 percent budget cut. The largest cut is to the agency’s Environmental Health Mission Area, which would have its budget cut 20 percent.

Paris Climate Pact Withdrawal Imperils Blue-Collar Solar Jobs.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Paquette) reports in a front-page story on employees of small-scale solar energy companies who supported President Trump are now concerned that US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement may hurt the prospects of their firms and them. The article says that solar panel installers receive similar pay to other blue collar jobs, in the $40,000 range, and cites employers and employees as being quite hopeful of their continued expansion with or without help from the Administration. Experts say that while some workers will benefit from President Trump’s decision, “their numbers will pale in comparison to the demand for workers in industries preparing the U.S. and other countries for a clean energy future.” The Post focuses on North Carolina, where a Department of Energy study found more than 9,500 solar jobs, greater than the state’s jobs in “natural gas (2,181), coal (2,115) and oil generation (480) combined.” Additionally, “major players in the power industry… say they remain committed to moving away from the older, more polluting sources of energy.”

Rhode Island Town Considering Solar Farm Proposal.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5) reports the Hopkinton, Rhode Island Town Council is considering Rhode Island Solar Renewable Energy LLC’s “proposal for a 46,000 panel solar farm” that would produce 18 megawatts of power. The company is seeking “to amend the town’s land use map and to change the residential zone of the property to special manufacturing.”

California Solar Power Production To Take Hit During August Eclipse.

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Danelski) reports that on August 21, California will experience a solar eclipse “late in the morning during peak solar production time on what normally is one of the hottest days of the year.” Solar facilities in the state “generated enough electricity to power about 4.7 million homes, according to an industry association” and “obviously, most of that clean power was generated when the sun is high.” The skies will be darkened “during a time when solar power can account for as much as 40 percent of the load on the statewide electricity grid.” The Mercury News adds “power experts believe as much as two-thirds of that clean energy will be lost as the moon’s shadow rolls across the state.” Cal ISO spokeswoman Anne Gonzales said, “We have to have things ready so we can fill up this gap quickly.”

Fort Hood Goes Green With Renewable Energy Project.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Malo) reports that largest military base in the US has started “drawing nearly half of its power from renewable energy,” just “days after President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a global agreement to fight climate change.” Fort Hood “has shifted away from fossil fuels to wind- and solar-generated energy in order to shield the base from its dependence on outside sources, a spokesman said.” Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said, “We need to be autonomous. If the unfortunate thing happened and we were under attack or someone attacked our power grid, you’d certainly want Fort Hood to be able to respond.” The project is made up of “63,000 solar panels, located on the base’s grounds, and 21 off-base wind turbines provide a total of some 65 megawatts of power, according to an Army statement.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Rising Number Of Texas Female Students Pursuing STEM Careers.

The Houston Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5, Balch) reports on the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, noting that according to the National Science Foundation, while “women made up about half of the U.S. college-educated workforce in 2013, only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce was female.” However, this trend “appears to be shifting as educators place more of an emphasis on encouraging girls to pursue an interest in STEM courses.” The piece reports that nearly two-thirds of the “30 valedictorians and salutatorians who graduated from Fort Bend County’s two largest school districts this year” were females “intending to pursue a career in a STEM field.”

University Of Illinois Students Introducing Girls To STEM Through 3-D Printing Sessions.

The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/3) reports that a group of University of Illinois students have launched an initiative called MakerGirl which “hosts 3-D printing sessions for girls to introduce them to computers and technology” in an effort to improve female representation in the STEM fields. The students last year “took MakerGirl on the road, holding 61 sessions in 44 cities across 17 states.”

Massachusetts Middle School Launches Water Rockets Through Career Program.

The Norwood (MA) Transcript and Bulletin Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5) reports “School to Careers initiated, planned and secured funding for” a two-year program at Massachusetts’ Coakley Middle School and six other middle schools to introduce students “to career professionals, projects and ideas that help them identify their interests and plan for their futures.” Coakley seventh-grade science teacher April Collins said this year, the program included a six-week lesson on how to make water rockets. The 20 participating students studied “after school the theories of propulsion, thrust, and Newton’s law of gravity,” and then built and launched rockets. Collins and another teacher, Stacey Bernritter, sought to pique students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, careers. They incorporated “the NASA educational curriculum and conducted in partnership with the Society of American Military Engineers.”

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Offers Math Program To Incoming Freshman.

The Rio Grande Valley (TX) Morning Star Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5) reports the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is hosting a Summer Bridge to Calculus program from July 13 through Aug. 18 for incoming freshman who want “to strengthen their math skills before the start of the Fall 2017 semester.” Interested students have until June 30 to apply for the program. Summer Bridge to Calculus is “part of a five-year National Science Foundation-funded project that helps students gain the math skills they need to pursue majors in engineering and computer science.” The curriculum “is tailored to each student’s experience and emphasizes the material that they have yet to cover, preparing them to take on Calculus I in the fall.” College of Sciences associate mathematics professor and associate student success dean Dr. Virgil Pierce “said the program has successfully prepared 64 mechanical engineering and computer science students for their fall classes, 36 of whom enrolled in the program in 2016.”

South Dakota High School Students Build Land Roller For Local Farmers’ Use.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/5) reports students enrolled in Ag Engineering and Welding classes at the Bon Homme High School in South Dakota “spent the spring semester designing and constructing a land roller 30 feet wide and weighing 14,000 pounds” that can level “fields by smashing down rocks and soil.” Bon Homme agricultural instructor Mark Misar said he wanted a project that would provide students with hands-on experience. Misar said parents suggested the creation of a land roller that could be leased to area farmers as “a fundraiser for our FFA chapter.” The student-constructed land roller also “offers an attractive financial benefit for area farmers, Misar said.”

Also in the News

Autonomous Cars Would Reduce Accidents From Failure To Use Turn Signals.

The Miami Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/4) reports drivers in South Florida tend not to use their turn signals in traffic, citing research from the Society of Automotive Engineers indicating that “failure to use turn signals results in two million collisions annually in the US.” The article explores various cultural reasons drivers don’t use their turn signals, and points out that the advent of driverless cars would take this human element out of the equation. According to Mohammed Hadi, a professor of transportation engineering at Florida International University’s College of Engineering and Computing, “current average highway lane capacity is 1,800-2,000 cars per hour and that would increase to 4,000 with autonomous vehicles that can drive faster and closer together.”

Monday’s Lead Stories

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