Leading the News
Perry Expresses Support For Clean Energy Cooperation With China.
AFP (6/8, France) reports Secretary of Energy Rick Perry “called for Sino-U.S. cooperation on clean energy during a visit to Beijing Thursday, a week after President Donald Trump’s much-criticized withdrawal from the Paris climate pact.” The move by Trump “has jolted the international community and could put China, the world’s top carbon emitter, in a position to fill the leadership void on curbing global warming.” But Perry signaled the U.S. “was still eager to work with China on developing clean energy technology such as liquefied natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power.” During a meeting with Chinese Executive Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli “on the sidelines of a ministerial-level clean energy meeting,” Perry said, “We have extraordinary opportunities to be partners to work on clean energy issues.” The AFP adds “the relatively low-level reception was a contrast to the red carpet Beijing rolled out for California governor Jerry Brown earlier this week.”
The AP (6/9, Brown) reports that while the energy ministers gathered in Beijing this week called for increased spending to fight climate change, “one prominent voice, that of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, delivered a starkly countervailing message as the Trump administration seeks to roll back spending on clean energy and promotes fossil fuels.” Perry said that Trump’s proposed budget “reflects an increasing understanding” that the private sector must lead in energy technology innovation. The AP (6/8) reports that Secretary Perry pointed to “liquefied natural gas, nuclear energy and carbon capture as areas where the two countries can cooperate.”
TIME (6/8, Worland) says that at the CEM meeting, Perry “played a marginalized role, primarily promoting natural gas, nuclear energy and technology to capture carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions.” In a second article, the AP (6/8) reports that Secretary Perry pointed to “liquefied natural gas, nuclear energy and carbon capture as areas where the two countries can cooperate.”
ClimateWire (6/8, Subscription Publication) reports Brown’s “meeting with President Xi Jinping was splashed across the front page of China Daily” and “throngs of clean energy acolytes have gathered at his speeches.” His “message — that nobody is doing enough to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions — is potentially unpopular. But his words have fallen on receptive ears.” Perry is also in Beijing “but he has not spoken to the press.” Perry spoke with Zhang about “a variety of energy technologies, including liquefied natural gas, carbon capture and sequestration, renewables and nuclear energy, but bowed out of a scheduled appearance at the CEM.” Brown had “strong words for the Trump administration but still praised Perry for attending the CEM.” Of Perry, Brown said, “He’s here talking about clean energy.” The two Americans “shook hands yesterday while traveling in opposite directions on an escalator.” The Los Angeles Times (6/8, Meyers) also reports “both Perry and Brown attended a conference this week of global energy ministers, but the California governor has received far more media attention.”
$102M Bowie State University Center for Natural Sciences Opens Friday.
The Washington Post (6/8, Larimer) reports that Bowie States University is scheduled to open “a Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Nursing, a brand-new $102 million building” on Friday that “is the latest in a wave of somewhat similar projects, geared toward science and related fields, in the Washington region as colleges seek to ensure they have the latest in technology and classroom facilities.” The facility features “state-of-art touches, such as the dynamic glass that automatically tints.” The Post adds, “The center – open, transparent and accessible – represents not only a commitment to those pursuing degrees in science and related fields, but also to a more collaborative way of learning.”
Analysis: Gainful Employment Rule Could Save Government Billions.
Politico Morning Education (6/8) reports that according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress, ED’s gainful employment rule “could save the government billions of dollars in federal student loan forgiveness savings.” The analysis says “the typical graduate of programs that fail the gainful employment rule carry so much debt that they would benefit greatly from the federal government’s income-driven repayment plan, which lets students pay a percentage of their income for 20 or 25 years and then forgives the remaining debt.” Politico says that ED is currently considering delaying or rewriting the rule, noting that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “earlier this year delayed until July 1 key deadlines for colleges to comply with the rule and submit appeals.”
ED Gives Further Indication Gainful Employment Rule Is Under Review. The Chronicle of Higher Education (6/8) reports acting Under Secretary James Manning has said in the letter to Senate Democrats that ED has “some level of concern” regarding the “hotly contested gainful-employment regulation” and is carefully reviewing it. The article calls this letter “the clearest indication to date that [ED] may rollback, or at least alter” the rule.
Colleges Working To Improve On-Time Graduation Rates.
The Wall Street Journal (6/8, Ward, Subscription Publication) reports that according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only around 40% of full-time college students graduate on time, with the average cost of an extra year of college exceeding $20,000. The article reports that a growing number of colleges are working to improve their on-time graduation rates, saying that this can help colleges’ bottom line because when their dropout rates rise their revenues fall.
Research and Development
Google’s Project Wing Completes FAA, NASA-Required UAV ATC Tests.
TechCrunch (6/7, Etherington) reports that Google’s Project Wing announced that it has completed a series of FAA and NASA-required UAV air traffic control (ATC) management tests, in preparation for plans to implement UAVs for package delivery. In the test, “a single Wing operator controlled three Wing drones simultaneously for separate pickup and delivery missions, while also navigating with two Intel drones and a DJI Inspire, all sharing the same general airspace.” The test demonstrated “how Wing’s traffic management platform could automatically plot the paths of all these vehicles, and intelligently update and adapt those paths on the fly, in real-world outdoor flying conditions.”
Reuters (6/7, Kelly) quotes Wing’s James Ryan Burgess, who said, “Within a few years, Wing and other companies are likely to have fleets with thousands of UAS in the air at any one time, so we’ll need systems that can dynamically route UAS not only around each other, but around manned aircraft, buildings, terrain, weather patterns and special events.”
Op-Ed: Congress Must Protect Universities’ Federal Research Funding.
In an op-ed for The Hill (6/8) Pundits Blog, Nicholas S. Zeppos, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, writes, “With this week’s White House budget request proposing dramatic cuts to federal research and education funding, America needs Congress to step up again” to protect “the research dollars granted to universities by federal agencies.” Zeppos adds, “One of the biggest sources of research funding is the National Institutes of Health. At Vanderbilt University, where I am chancellor, the NIH supports much of our biomedical research. Losing those grants would dramatically curtail cutting-edge investigation into areas critical to the nation’s health and welfare.”
MIT Researchers Unveil Shape-Shifting Edible Origami.
Fox News (6/8) reports researchers with MIT’s Tangible Media Group “have announced the successful creation of edible, shape-shifting origami ‘pasta,’ a food that literally changes shape when properly ‘manipulated.’” The substance is “made out of flat sheets of gelatin and starch” with different densities.
ARPA-E’s Research Program Profiled.
Politico (6/8, Zhou) offers a list of “10 of the U.S. government’s most cutting-edge in-house innovation labs.” Among them is ARPA-E, which was funded by President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill in 2009 “to keep the U.S. ahead in energy technology, with a focus on clean energy.” The report says the lab developed “better electric batteries for cars and other vehicles; “clean coal” technology to lower the cost of carbon capture at coal-fired power plants; microbacteria that create liquid transportation fuels, which are still being tested.”
NASA Administrator: 2018 Budget Contains Funding For Mars Mission In 2033.
USA Today (6/8, King) reports, “Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said the agency’s goal of sending human to Mars by 2033 remains on track despite concerns raised about future funding and independent assessments that suggest such a mission is unlikely without a sizable, long-term increase in funding.” Lightfoot said before two House panels Thursday that “the $3.9 billion in the budget proposal for human exploration would allow NASA to continue developing its two key pieces of hardware: the Orion vehicle that will carry astronauts into deep space and the Space Launch System rocket that Orion will ride on past the moon and toward Mars.”
Washington University In St Louis Research Headed To ISS.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (6/8) reports that over the next few years, astronauts on the International Space Station will perform research designed by Washington University in St. Louis engineering professor Richard Axelbaum. The project, dubbed Flame Design, is intended to explore “how a major pollutant, soot, is formed and how to control it.”
Lockheed Martin Could Ready SR-72 Prototype By 2020s.
In continuing coverage, Engineering (6/8) reports on Lockheed Martin Skunk Works plans to move forward on development of a hypersonic SR-72. The jet will b e powered by a strut jet, a “combined cycle propulsion system…in which a scramjet, ramjet and ducted rocket are unified to share a single propulsion flow path.” Engineering reports that a prototype could be ready “by the early 2020s,” and a fill-sized SR-72 “could be operational before 2030.”
Boeing Planning To Test Pilotless Plane Next Year.
CNBC (6/8) reports Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s Vice President of Product Development, said in a briefing before the Paris Air Show that the company is currently researching the possibility of flying jetliners that rely on artificial intelligence instead of pilots. CNBC adds that Sinnett plans to test the concept in a cockpit simulator this summer and conduct experimental flights on board an airplane equipped with the technology next year. According to Seattle Times (6/8, Gates), Sinnett said that the company’s research is “driven by the pilot shortage worldwide that is only going to become more acute.”
Energy Execs Urge Trump To Maintain Basic Research Funding.
The Los Angeles Times (6/8, Mufson) reports that 14 energy business executives wrote in a letter “organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the American Energy Innovation Council” to “top members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees urging them to maintain basic research funding, especially in energy, that President Trump has proposed to slash or eliminate.” The Times says the letter targeted Trump’s proposed “36.5 percent reduction in nuclear research…58 percent cut in fossil fuel technology and…35 percent overall cut in science and energy innovation,” as well as his proposed “elimination of the $306-million-a-year program known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.”
Facebook To Pay For Coding Training For 3,000 Michigan Workers.
Crain’s Detroit Business (6/8) reports Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has announced that the firm will fund “the training of 3,000 Michigan workers for jobs in digital marketing over the next two years.” The 10-week course will be offered by computer coding training firm Grand Circus. Sandberg says the move “is designed to help fill a growing shortage of computer coding jobs and develop talent for a future possible expansion into Michigan.”
Chinese Proof-Of-Concept Amphibious Armored Car Hits 31 Miles Per Hour In Water.
Popular Science (6/8) reports China is developing a new amphibious armored car that has traveled 31 miles per hour in calm waters, making it the “fastest amphibious military in the vehicle in the world.” The Iveco/BAE SuperAV, currently proposed to be used by the US Marine Corps, “has a top amphibious speed of about 6 miles per hour.” While the vehicle used by the North China Institute of Vehicle Research is “only a proof-of-concept vehicle,” the article states that the feat is “still pretty impressive.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Musk’s Proposed Traffic-Fighting Tunnels May Face Challenges.
NBC News (6/7) describes and a new venture announced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the Boring Company “which aims to solve our ever-increasing traffic problems by creating a complex network of subterranean tunnels for cars.” However, “experts suggest that simpler alternatives may be preferable solutions to our traffic woes.” According to Hesham Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, “the tunnels are the equivalent of adding extra lanes to roadways would have the same results” because “adding supply to your network inevitably creates so-called induced demand, in which drivers change their behaviors to make use of the increased network capacity.”
New York Students Win National Science Competition Top Honors With Carbon Nano Sphere Research.
The Washington Times (6/8, Nelson) reports that four sophomores from Stuyvesant High School in New York City are among the first place winners in this year’s Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision science competition. The students “used carbon nanospheres – minute balls of carbon known for their [absorptive] qualities – to improve the efficiency of quantum computers, which store their data amid the various quantum states of subatomic particles.”
Elementary Students In Wisconsin District To Learn Coding Year-Round.
The Onalaska Holmen (WI) Courier Life News (6/8) reports that beginning in the 2017-18 school year, students in Wisconsin’s Onalaska School District “grades 1-5 will be taught computer programming and coding year-round.” The piece quotes teacher Greg Hilker saying, “We’re trying to show them that most of the time you are a consumer of whatever someone else has created. But you can actually create it yourself.”
Poll: Teachers Say Most Middle, High School Students Not Interested In STEM Subjects.
Madeline Will writes at the Education Week (6/8) “Teaching Now” blog that according to a recent poll of middle and high school teachers commissioned by Lockheed Martin, “most middle and high school students are not interested in science, math, and even space.” Only 38% of respondents “said that most of their students seem naturally interested” in STEM subjects, and only 41% “said the students are eager to learn about space-related topics like planets, the solar system, space travel, and space exploration milestones.”
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Some Automotive Engineers Skeptical Of Hand-Off Between Autonomous And Human Drivers.
• Colleges Working To Address Widening Skills Gap.
• Former AAS President Warns Of Economic Fallout From Trump STEM Research Cuts.
• Google’s DeMichillie Says New Building Will Be Devoted To Cloud.
• Will: Oregon Suppressing Free Speech Through Licensure Requirements For Engineers.
• Ohio District Expanding STEM Program To Pre-K Students.