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

Leading the News

China Makes Major Breakthrough In Quantum Cryptography Research.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, Chin, Subscription Publication) reports a team of Chinese scientists published an account of an experiment in the journal Science, describing their success in sending specially linked photons from a satellite to establish an instantaneous connection between two stations on Earth more than 1,200 kilometers apart. Experts say this achievement gives the country an advantage in using quantum technology to construct an “unhackable” global communications network. The Journal says the findings represent a significant breakthrough that makes China a pioneer in its efforts to use the enigmatic properties of matter and energy at the subatomic level. The Pentagon, in an annual report last week, called China’s quantum satellite launch in August a “notable advance in cryptography research.” According to the Journal, while the US has focused on quantum computing, Europe and China have focused on quantum encryption, but Chinese researchers are better equipped with government funds. The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, Netburn) provides a Q&A-style explanation of entangled photons, the process by which a satellite emitted them, and the implications of the experiment.

Higher Education

Russia, China Lead Student Teams At The Computer Programming Olympics.

Salon Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18) profiles Alexander Iverson, a 20-year-old South Dakota School of Mines and Technology computer science senior “and a recent competitor in the collegiate ‘Olympics of computer programming.’” South Dakota hosted the event, the 41st annual International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, and 133 three-person teams from 44 different nations “competed to answer as many of the 12 computer programming problem sets as they could.” A team from Russia’s St. Petersburg National Research University for Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics, won the competition, and Russian and Chinese teams scored in nine of the top 14 spots. Iverson’s team received an honorable mention, the University of Central Florida placed 13th, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology placed 20th. Iverson told Salon “that one of the main reasons he has excelled in an area where other American students haven’t is because of his self-instruction outside of school.”

ED’s Rollback Of For-Profit Regulation, Civil Rights Protections Concerns Student Advocates.

The Chronicle of Higher Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15) reports on the concerns that are being voiced by student advocates over ED’s recent change of “regulations enacted during the Obama administration designed to rein in predatory for-profit colleges” and “changes in how the Office for Civil Rights will investigate complaints.” The piece quotes Center for American Progress Senior Director for Postsecondary Education Ben Miller criticizing the moves. Said Tamara Hiler, senior policy adviser at Third Way, a nonpartisan think tank, “It doesn’t make sense. What we should be doing is making sure we’re protecting students from the schools that are clearly defrauding them or making them worse off than if they hadn’t gone to the institution in the first place.” The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, Puzzanghera, Masunaga) reports that ED is suspending Obama-era rules “to make it easier to forgive loans for stranded students and to try to prevent future abuses” from fraudulent for-profit colleges, sparking “criticism from Democrats and student advocates.”

The Inland Valley (CA) Daily Bulletin Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/17) reports, “consumer advocate and education groups have largely criticized the move,” adding that attorneys general from at last nine states have “filed a motion to block the action.” The piece quotes California Attorney General Xavier Becerra saying, “As the founder of the failed Trump University, President Trump knows well how some shady for-profit colleges and universities award useless degrees and prey on students’ and taxpayer’s money. If Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration won’t protect students, then I will.”

University Of Michigan To Offer Free Tuition To Low-Income Students.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, Williams) reported the University of Michigan’s board of regents approved on Tuesday the “Go Blue Guarantee” program. The program will offer free four-year tuition to in-state students from homes with family incomes of less than $65,000 annually, but “will not cover room and board.” The guarantee is slated to start on Jan. 1, and is “part of the school’s $2 billion fiscal year 2018 general fund budget for the Ann Arbor campus.” Board of Regents Chair Mark Bernstein said the program is aimed at increasing the campus’ socio-economic diversity. “There is no question that the talent and the intelligence and hard work is evenly spread across Michigan families, but if you look at who is attending our school it does not represent the state,” Bernstein explained.

PODCAST – Highlights from Columbus, Our Annual Conference Host
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.

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

EngineeringCAS Webinar
Learn about the new “common app for engineering graduate schools” in an upcoming free webinar.

Research and Development

Researchers Create Patch That Could One Day Benefit Heart Attack Patients.

Newsweek Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/17, Firger) reported that researchers “using 3-D printing technology” have “created a patch” that could one day benefit heart attack patients. Researcher Brenda Ogle said, “The concept is to imprint proteins that are native to the body.” Ogle added, “We’ve used stem cell–derived cardiac muscle – cardiac myocytes – and actually mixed those with other cell types needed for blood vessels.” That, “she says, prevents what would otherwise happen naturally: The formation of a different type cells known as fibroblasts, which secrete scar tissue.” Investigators “have successfully tried the patch on mice.” The findings were published in Circulation Research. The findings “were so inspiring that in June 2016 the National Institutes of Health awarded her team a grant of more than $3 million, so they can now give pigs heart attacks and fix them with the patch.”

Bioengineering May Change How Drugs For Cancer And Other Diseases Are Made, Experts Say.

The Boston Globe Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/16, Weisman) reported the combination of biology and engineering may lead to a new biomedical revolution with new treatments for cancer and other diseases, according to “a panel of top research and business leaders” at a MIT symposium. The experts said that the combination of biology and engineering may change how drugs are developed, which could lead to more personalized treatments.

NASA Scientists To Announce New Kepler Exoplanet Finds Monday.

In continuing coverage, SPACE Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, Emspak) reports that NASA “will announce the latest crop of planet discoveries from the Kepler Space Telescope” Monday morning at 11 am EDT from the Kepler Science Conference. The conference will be livestreamed from NASA’s website and will feature a panel with Kepler program scientist Mario Perez, Kepler research scientist Susan Thompson, NASA Sagan Fellow Courtney Dressing, and University of Hawaii doctoral candidate Benjamin Fulton.

Ohio Airport Awarded State, Federal Grants To Research New UAV Technology.

The Springfield (OH) News Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, Brown) reports that the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport has received new mobile radar equipment and a total of $5 million in state and federal grants that will be used to fly and track UAVs beyond the line of sight. The News Sun adds that “testing will begin in about a month at the Springfield airport and it will later be presented to the FAA once completed.”

Iowa State University Students To Showcase First Solar Utility Vehicle.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, Sutter) reports Iowa State University’s solar team, Team PrISUm, is showcasing the first solar utility vehicle, dubbed the Penumbra, on a 99-country “Sun Run” to explain their work and “inspire younger students.” After tour, the team will take the vehicle to Australia to compete in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The Penumbra can achieve speeds of 35 miles-per-hour on sunny days, and it can reach a top speed near 70 miles-per-hour when supplemented with on-board batteries with a range of up to 200 miles. Team member Bradlee Fair commented, “We’re hoping to shock the world with our practicality. We’re the only team in the world that has the rearview mirror, and the rear window, and some trunk space. And of course, we have some amazing JBL speakers in the car; you have Bluetooth, Google maps, Google music. You can program your playlist specifically for who rides in the car.”

Vanderbilt University Researchers Examine Climate Change In Tennessee.

In a more than 2,100-word article, the Nashville (TN) Ledger Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/16) explored projects launched by Vanderbilt University aimed at understand the impact of climate change in Tennessee. Vanderbilt University research associate professor of civil and environmental engineering Janey Camp and a team of engineers are studying commerce and flood control in Middle Tennessee with the help of a research grant from the Housing and Urban Development Department. Camp is also focused on helping “people understand how the research she is working on at Vanderbilt can apply locally, like in the rapidly growing Nashville area where more hard surfaces means more storm-runoff, which can lead to potential failure of infrastructure or disruption to normal operations.” Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s Hiba Baroud is leading a National Science Foundation-funded project “focused on using Bayesian statistical modeling to measure and analyze the risk, reliability and resilience in critical infrastructure systems; in particular, to predict outcomes in extreme weather events and models of how communities can most quickly recover.”

Iowa State University Debuts Solar-Powered Car.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, Sutter) reports that “the solar vehicle Iowa State University students are showing off across the state doesn’t look a lot like your standard American car.” The AP adds, “The ISU solar team, Team PrISUm, said this is the world’s first solar utility vehicle. And they’re taking it to all 99 counties, explaining their work and hoping to inspire younger students.” The article also states that “the Penumbra, as they call it, can run about 35 mph (about 56 kph) on solar power alone on a sunny day,” and, “its top speed is near 70 mph (about 112 kph), thanks to its onboard batteries.” The article quotes team member Bradlee Fair saying, “our biggest competition is from Germany, the Netherlands and Japan, so we really are racing on the international stage.”


Aerospace Companies Recruit Engineers From Race Car Competitions.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/16, Masunaga) reported that “traditional aerospace giants are finding talent in an unlikely place: a college race-car competition.” The Times added, “100 university teams will bring their prototype race cars to the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) competition in Lincoln, Neb., where they will be judged on design, manufacturing, performance and business logic.” The article also stated that “the aerospace leaders who help judge the contest say it’s also an opportunity to see students explain design and production decisions, present their business cases and adapt on the fly.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Safety Issues At Los Alamos May Be Setting Back Nuclear Arsenal Update.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, A1, Malone) has a front-page story on how violations of safety rules at Los Alamos National Laboratory have continued in spite of a partial shutdown over the matter four years ago. The New Mexico nuclear lab’s “shortcomings in plutonium safety have been cited in more than 40 reports by government oversight agencies, teams of nuclear safety experts and the lab’s own employees over the past 11 years.” Some say that contractors “have been chasing lucrative government bonuses tied to” safety improvements at the cost of the nuclear program, experts say the US “risks falling behind on an ambitious $1 trillion update of its nuclear arsenal.”

Power Plant On Navajo Nation Land Could Play Role In Keeping Coal Industry Alive.

The Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, Wolfgang) reports, “An aging power plant in remote Arizona could offer the Trump administration a unique opportunity: the chance to back up its rhetoric about saving the US coal industry with concrete action.” The Bureau of Reclamation owns a 24 percent stake in the Navajo Generating Station, “a coal-fired facility on Navajo Nation land near the Arizona-Utah border.” Its other owners say the station “is no longer economically viable and, as structured, would run at a $100 million annual loss each year after 2019,” but the “mine that feeds the plant sits on Hopi Tribe land, and the tribe depends on coal royalties for about 85 percent of its annual budget.” Coal proponents say the government should ensure that both the mine and the power station stay open.

Comprehensive Study Details Environmental, Social Impacts Of Hydraulic Fracturing In Texas.

The Houston Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, Hunn) reported on “the most comprehensive analysis of the environmental and social impacts of drilling and hydraulic fracturing,” recently conducted by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. The analysis is “likely to increase the scrutiny of fracking, particularly as a second shale boom gets underway in the Permian Basin,” and may “boost pressure on firms to drill more carefully, keep operations out of populated areas, and consider more environmentally friendly fracking technologies.” The analysis found little evidence linking emissions from shale oil operations to health effects, but was critical of the limited data and lack of a statewide database to track environmental impacts.

Missouri-Based Solar Company Among State’s Fastest Growing Companies.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/18, Gray) reported on Sun Solar, a Missouri-based solar panel company that ranks as one of the state’s fastest-growing businesses. Company founder Caleb Arthur, who identifies as a lifelong Republican, said, “Believe in climate change or not, these jobs are growing at a faster rate.” Moreover, Arthur “doesn’t think solar’s success has to be directly at odds with fossil fuels. Rather, he sees opportunities to ramp up efforts to retrain and hire more workers displaced from that background.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Girl Scouts Announce Cybersecurity Badges.

Yahoo! Finance Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/16, Zarya) reported, “On Thursday, Girl Scouts of the USA announced a new partnership with Palo Alto Networks to create a series of cybersecurity badges. The badges, which will be available starting in 2018, can be earned by girls in grades K-12 who demonstrate mastery of Internet security.” The article noted that “recent research by Accenture and Girls Who Code found that, for girls in middle school (ages 9-11), having a mentor increased the likelihood that a girl would pursue computer science by 16%, and a belief that computer science is ‘for girls’ increased the odds by 25%.” Girl Scouts’ “single-gender, collaborative, mentorship-focused nature makes it a particularly welcoming place for girls’ STEM education.”

Chevron Helps Provide STEM Grants To West Virginia Schools.

WBOY-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Clarksburg, WV (6/15, Conard) reports that Chevron and the Benedum foundation have provided $800,000 in grants to RESA 7, which helps bring resources to rural communities and 17 schools around Clarksburg, West Virginia. The grants are meant to “promote innovation and are focused on STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Kathy Hypes from RESA 7 said, “Encourage and enhance the curriculum that is already in place by bringing more innovative solutions to the rural communities which was part of the identification process and bringing these opportunities to children.”

Illinois Students Explore STEM Fields At USPTO-Sponsored “Camp Invention.”

The Northwest (IL) Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/16) reported the US Patent and Trademark Office-supported National Inventors Hall of Fame founded Camp Invention in 1990 to introduce students to the science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields. This “loud cry for innovation” was introduced to Crystal Lake, Illinois in 2002 by Kristin Thorsen, who is now a Camp Director. Last week, 96 students participated in the five-day program. “The curriculum reaches kids in a way that they become so engaged,” Thorsen stated. She added, “They wish that school could be like this all of the time. It offers kids the opportunity to experience all of the STEM fields in a hands-on way where they are inventing and creating during every module of the day.”

Friday’s Lead Stories

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