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

Leading the News

Honeywell, MU College Of Engineering Agree To Continue Collaboration.

The Columbia (MO) Missourian Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/8, Woo) reports, “MU’s College of Engineering announced a new agreement with Honeywell on Tuesday that will secure real-life experience for its students.” Elizabeth Loboa, dean of the MU College of Engineering, said, “Partnerships such as the one we are establishing now are invaluable to the future of the industry.” The agreement “will also allow MU professors to use equipment at the Department of Energy’s Kansas City National Security Campus, and Honeywell’s engineers will have access to the university’s equipment as well, she said.” Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies “manages the Kansas City National Security Campus,” which is “part of an effort to reduce the country’s nuclear stockpile by manufacturing cost-effective products and services for national security programs, according to its website.”

The West Plains (MO) Daily Quill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/8) reports that the agreement between the University of Missouri and Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies “will position MU College of Engineering faculty, staff and students to partner on technologies that enhance national security while providing engineering students with important internships and career development opportunities.” Honeywell and the College of Engineering “will share resources, space and equipment as the two look to discover and implement new strategies.”

Higher Education

Pennsylvania’s Higher Education System To Examine Academic, Financial Disparities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/11) reports Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is “nearing what could be a historic restructuring,” and in July, a consultant “is expected to recommend whether campus consolidations are needed or how many universities there should be, given sharp enrollment losses.” Some universities in the system are “flirting with financial collapse,” but others are financially and academically flourishing. The Post-Gazette examines how the universities reached “such an uneven place,” and whether the State System or the state itself have done enough to address the academic and financial disparities. For example, supporters of the historically black Cheyney University, which “is in the worst shape by far,” have argued “neglect rooted in racism contributed to the decline,” but system leaders have denied allegations of discrimination.

Purdue Officials Submit Online University Proposal To Indiana State Commission.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/11) reports that on Thursday, Purdue University officials presented the Indiana Commission for Higher Education with their proposal to create NewU, an online university. The Times of Northwest Indiana Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(6/10) said NewU “would stem from Purdue’s recent acquisition of for-profit Kaplan University.” State Commission Vice Chair Chris LaMothe called the proposal a bold initiative and a potential model for higher education, but he stressed that education quality must be prioritized. The state education officials also “raised questions about the online school’s effect on Purdue’s reputation, the quality of the online university and the financial risk involved with the venture.” University President Mitch Daniels called NewU “a huge opportunity for the state,” and “the one way that we can reach people who individually deserve a better chance in life and who Indiana and the nation need to have that chance.” The state commission will vote on the proposal in August, and ED and the Higher Learning Commission must also grant approval.

Education Writer Dispels States’ “Free College” Initiatives.

Freelance education writer James S. Murphy, in a piece for the Boston Globe Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/10, Murphy), said Penn Ahead researchers found “there are 219 states or municipalities that already have or have proposed some form of free two- or four-year college tuition.” The idea of universal free college has resonated with voters; however, state leaders are struggling with the associated costs. “As a result,” Murphy wrote, “they’re coming up with solutions so pared down that they make college free often in name only, for a relatively small number of students.” Murphy recalled former Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent praise of the Boston Bridge program, which eliminates tuition and fees but does not “address the full costs of college.” The Boston Bridge program is “a striking example of an all-too-common phenomenon,” where a “grand” idea “is sanded down and sanded down” until “little remains but the name,” which “is often enough to claim the credit for the big idea, never delivered.”

Study: Women Account For Two-Thirds Of Outstanding Student Loan Debt.

The Boston Globe Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/10, Fernandes) reports women borrowers “now shoulder almost two-thirds of the $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans, even though they account for just 57 percent of students enrolled in colleges and universities.” According to an American Association of University study, women’s student loan debt now totals $833 billion, compared to $223 billion in 2004. While the reasons why women account for most “student debt are varied and sometimes interrelated,” several factors may contribute. Women “borrow more money for college and attend more expensive private colleges,” are more likely to borrow funds to cover other living expenses, and are more likely than men “to enroll in for-profit schools.” Furthermore, “the persistent gap in pay between women and men leaves women struggling longer to pay off their loans, straining their finances and placing them at a greater risk of default, according to the study.”

Annual Conference Columbus Highlights
Headed to the ASEE Annual in Columbus? Listen to our short podcast where Prism magazine associate editor Jenn Pocock details some of the city’s higlights.

ASEE Annual Conference Video Highlights
Getting ready for the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference?  Check out ASEE TV 2016 conference highlight videos here.

Research and Development

Several Companies Pursuing Computer-Brain Interfaces.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/11, Gent) reports that a number of companies are working on “technology that can meld the human brain with machines,” asking, “how will this help society, and which companies are leading the charge.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk “made waves in March when he announced his latest venture, Neuralink, which would design what are called brain-computer interfaces.” Meanwhile, shortly “after Musk launched Neuralink, Facebook announced that it was working on a way to let people ‘type’ by thought alone.”

University Of Illinois Researchers Claim New Technology To Safely Extend Battery Life.

The Chicago Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9, Holly) reported researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign claim they have discovered a new way to extend laptop and cellphone battery life without jeopardizing safety: “self-healing technology.” Nancy Sottos, a U. of I. material science and engineering professor said that “adding the self-healing technology to lithium-ion batteries is done through a ‘straightforward’ surface treatment to the silicon nanoparticles.” In essence, the researchers found a “way to introduce dynamic bonding at the interface between the silicon nanoparticle and the binder,” and by doing so, “the silicon anodes in lithium-ion batteries can continuously form new bonds and repair themselves when needed. It’s like if thin cracks in the road could self-fill with asphalt before becoming bothersome potholes.” Sottos added that, “in the future, the researchers hope to bring the same approach to different battery types as well.”

Seattle Has Become “The World’s Cloud Capital.”

Barb Darrow of Fortune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9) writes that at a tech conference in Bellevue, Washington last week, “there was much talk about whether the Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond axis is on the upswing compared to Silicon Valley. Investors and tech executives in the area which is home to Amazon and Microsoft, expounded on how it has become the world’s cloud capital.” AWS and Microsoft Azure are based there, “and other cloud contenders based in Silicon Valley, including Google and Oracle, also put large cloud development and engineering offices in the Seattle area.”

LG Establishes AI Division.

LG yesterday announced the launch of two new research centers dedicated to AI, reports the Korea Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(6/11), each of which “will focus on the development and implementation of AI related services.” According to the report, the entity will aim to establish services applicable “to the company’s home appliance lineup, smartphones and automobile parts,” with one area “devoted to R&D for deep learning.” Elsewhere, the firm’s robotics center will continue to ensure development of core “smart robotics” technologies.

Illinois Lawmakers Concerned Trump Budget Will Hurt Jobs At DOE Labs.

The Chicago Daily Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9) reports lawmakers in Illinois “from both sides of the aisle are pushing back against cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget,” which they contend “mean layoffs at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia and Argonne National Laboratory near Darien.” Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren “called that portion of the president’s budget a ‘non-starter’” and “estimates 150 to 200 jobs at the facility might be affected by the budget plan.” Hultgren said, “I’ll be fighting hard to ensure our labs have the proper staff and resources to ensure our nation remains at the forefront of discovery and job creation.” In the meantime, Rep. Bill Foster has “spearheaded a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry signed by 12 other Illinois Democrats saying, ‘we fear that the funding levels requested in the (president’s budget) would cause permanent damage to our research infrastructure and force our national labs to lay off critical scientific staff.’”

Global Developments

Researchers Develop “Ultrastrong,” Lightweight, And Elastic Carbon Material.

Xinhua News Agency (CHN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/11) reports scientists at Yanshan University in China “have developed a form of ultrastrong, lightweight carbon that is hard as a diamond yet elastic like rubber and electrically conductive.” Co-lead author Zhisheng Zhao said, “In simple terms, the material combines the best properties of graphitic- and diamond-like forms of carbon. … This combination of properties is useful for many potential applications, such as military armor and aerospace.” Science Advances published the study last week. The Carnegie Institution of Washington, the Shanghai-based Center for High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research, the University of Chicago, and the Pennsylvania State University also participated in the research.

Engineering and Public Policy

OMB Considers Trump’s Clean Power Plan Review, Nears Public Release.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9, Cama) reports the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed review of the Clean Power Plan, the final step before it is publicly released for comments. According to The Hill, the Administration “is expected to seek a full repeal of the rule.”

WTimes Analysis: Coal Industry Rebound Likely To Be “Short-Lived.”

The Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/11, Wolfgang) reports that despite signs of a US coal industry rebound, “even the most ardent coal proponents say the revival will be short-lived,” as “many coal-fired power plants and utilities” are “moving toward cheaper natural gas.” Energy Information Administration (EIA) data show that “coal production during the final week of May was 22 percent higher than during the same week last year, with nearly 15 million short tons.” However, the Times calls statistics presented by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on ABC’s “This Week” on June 4 “misleading”; Pruitt said 50,000 coal-related jobs were created in the US last quarter, but that count includes “a host of positions not directly related to coal mining,” according to the article.

Pinelands Commission Gears Up To Review Another Controversial Pipeline.

The Burlington County (NJ) Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9, Levinsky) reported that the New Jersey Pinelands Commission is gearing up to review “another controversial natural gas pipeline,” New Jersey Natural Gas’ proposed Southern Reliability Link. Residents in the area have “railed” against the project, claiming it “poses a significant safety and pollution risk and that its true purpose is to enrich the utility company’s profits.” Meanwhile, NJNG insists the pipeline and a related compressor station “will provide much-needed energy reliability to close to a million residents and businesses in Ocean and Monmouth counties.”

Green Interests Divided On Wisconsin Power Line.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/11, Bergquist) reports a “fight” between “dueling environmental constituencies is brewing over plans for a massive transmission line that would run through the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin.” Developers contend “the estimated $500 million, 125-mile line would help buttress the regional power grid and provide access to lower-priced electricity in Iowa and other states.” The proposed power line “pits a pair of green interests: those who see the project as a blight on the picturesque ridges and valleys of the region and those who say it opens up a new route for renewable wind energy from other states.” The Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line would stretch “from west of Madison to Dubuque County in Iowa, where it would be linked to a growing fleet of wind farms that produce no greenhouse gases.” The Wisconsin Public Service Commission “must decide whether the line is needed, and, if so, the best corridor to build it.”

Massachusetts Aims To Ramp Up Offshore Wind Development.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/11, Marcelo) reports Massachusetts is “ramping up” its “bid to become the nation’s leader in offshore wind power.” The utilities in the state, “National Grid, Eversource and Unitil” are expected “to release by June 30 their requirements for projects seeking to develop the state’s first ocean-based wind farm.” The move “sets in motion an ambitious effort to put Massachusetts ahead of states like New York, New Jersey and Maryland also seeking to establish their presence in the nascent U.S. industry.”

Wind Power Continues Its Expansion In Texas.

The Houston Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9, Handy) reports that while most of the power in Texas “comes from coal and natural gas,” those “power plants face unprecedented competition from wind farms, according to a report released by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees 90 percent of Texas’ electricity grid.” ERCOT found that “wind’s share of power generation has grown each year over the past decade and accounts for nearly all of the new generation added to the grid over that period.” In 2007, just “14 counties in ERCOT’s system had wind farms, but in 2016 there were wind farms in 50 counties.” The expanding “presence of wind in Texas has driven down wholesale power prices, which ERCOT tracks by the minute.”

Friday’s Lead Stories

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