Leading the News
Trump Administration To Focus On Energy This Week.
The Hill (6/26, Cama) reports “this week” has been designated by the Trump Administration as “Energy Week” in an effort “to promote the president’s energy agenda.” President Trump and members of his Administration at events throughout the week “will push their quest for ‘energy dominance,’ a term officials are using for their goal to become the world’s energy superpower.” On Monday, a White House spokeswoman said, “President Trump is committed to utilizing our abundant domestic energy resources both to create jobs and a growing, prosperous economy at home and to strengthen America’s global influence and leadership abroad.” An event on Thursday will “feature Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in an ‘American Energy Dominance Panel,’ followed by a speech by Trump on ‘energy dominance.’” The Washington Examiner (6/26, Siciliano) reports that according to the spokeswoman “the week will be marked by a number of announcements…noting events and speeches by Trump and his Cabinet leading up to the July 4 holiday.” Trump on Wednesday will “host governors and tribal leaders for a discussion about local and state energy, she said.”
The Daily Caller (6/26, Pearce) reports Perry will deliver “a keynote address at the annual U.S. Energy Information Conference taking place Monday and Tuesday.” Perry “tweeted about #EnergyWeek Monday morning.” The Washington Examiner (6/26, Siciliano) reports that according Perry, “this week will also reaffirm our commitment to clean energy.” He said, “The binary choice between being pro-economy and pro-environment that was perpetuated by the Obama administration, it set up a false argument,” and that the Trump administration “can do good for both.”
The Hill (6/26, Cama, Henry) also reports, “Energy Week is one of numerous designations that the White House has made in recent weeks to try to focus on particular pieces of Trump’s agenda, such as infrastructure and technology.” During those weeks, “other policy news dominated national headlines, including healthcare reform and the investigations into Russian involvement in last year’s election.” The “Energy 202” blog of the Washington Post, (6/26, Grandoni) the “Morning Energy” blog of Politico (6/26, Wolff) and the AP (6/26) also provides coverage. also previewed the week.
Students Of Fraudulent For-Profit Colleges Still Waiting For Debt Relief.
The AP (6/26, Binkley) reports on the plight of former students at failed for-profit colleges who were “promised by the U.S. Education Department under President Barack Obama that her federal loans would be forgiven by now.” The piece says students are concerned about the continuing financial burdens and “advocates say the pipeline to loan forgiveness appears to have slowed since President Donald Trump took office, stirring concern that some students may be left in the lurch, and that the department is veering from its predecessor’s work to rein in fraudulent for-profit colleges.” However, ED officials “dispute that claim, saying they’re working quickly to clear a backlog that was inherited from the previous administration.”
University Leaders Cautiously Optimistic About SCOTUS Move On Travel Ban.
The Washington Post (6/26, Svrluga) reports that President Trump’s push for a travel ban on six mostly Muslim countries sparked opposition from university leaders who warned “it would hinder research and recruitment of the best talent in the world.” This week, “some university leaders welcomed a Supreme Court ruling that Trump also claimed as a victory.” The court “agreed to allow a limited version of the ban to take effect, carving out exceptions that appear to exempt university students, faculty and lecturers.” The piece quotes Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman saying in a statement, “While we are still reviewing the Court’s decision, the Court has rightly recognized that students, faculty, and lecturers from the designated countries have a bona fide relationship with an American entity and should not be barred from entering the United States.”
Research and Development
Duke University Students Design 3D-Printed Spinal Cages.
An online CNN Money (6/22, Dangerfield) video profiles Duke University mechanical engineering students who are working with surgeons to design and 3D-print spinal cages. The technique is already used in Germany and India. The technique requires the FDA’s approval prior to its use in American surgeries.
University Of Central Florida Researchers’ Smartphone Screen Modeled After Moth Eyes.
NBC News (6/26, Yiu) “Inside Science” reports University of Central Florida researchers published a paper in the journal Optica this week describing an anti-reflection film optimized “specifically for smartphone screens, and they also provide a model that other researchers can use to optimize their own films.” NBC News says engineers and materials scientists have often modeled their anti-reflection films after moths’ eyes, which feature surface-level nanoscale structures that minimize light reflection. Likewise, the UCF team led by Shin-Tson Wu deposited a solution of nanoscale silicon oxide spheres measuring about 100 nanometers across onto a surface that was then dimpled to create “the nanoscale structure that mimics what moths have on the surface of their eyes.” Stanford University material scientist Dietmar Knipp, who was not involved in the research, explained that “imprinting is usually a good choice,” but Wu conceded the process loosened some of the nanoparticles, rendering the dimpling stamp unusable.
NASA Considers Close-Up Mission To Uranus, Neptune.
On its website, Fox News (6/26) reports NASA released a 529-page study that outlined several of its potential mission ideas in support of the National Research Council’s forthcoming Planetary Science Decadal Survey, which “is used to help determine what missions NASA should pursue.” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory planetary scientist Mark Hofstadter, one of the two co-chairs on the team that published the report, stated, “This [NASA] study argues the importance of exploring” either Uranus or Neptune and their “entire environment, which includes surprisingly dynamic icy moons, rings and bizarre magnetic fields.” NASA Goddard Space Flight Center senior scientist of planetary atmospheres research and study co-chair Amy Simon explained further, “We do not know how these planets formed and why they and their moons look the way they do.” She continued, “There are fundamental clues as to how our solar system formed and evolved that can only be found by a detailed study of one, or preferably both of these planets.”
Experts Hope US Budget Cuts To Scientific Research Don’t Block Climate Data.
Bloomberg News (6/26) reports that President Trump’s proposed budget cuts for federally-funded science research has spurred research institutes and universities in Europe to informally pursue policies aimed recruiting American scientists. More consequential than a potential “brain drain” would be the impact of budget cuts on US climate data, particularly that generated by NASA’s Earth-science research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research office. Satellite data, for example, is a “key area of U.S. leadership,” according to Michael Oppenheimer, professor at Princeton University.
Israeli Government, Start-Ups Address Projected Technology Workforce Shortage.
Reuters (6/26, Cohen) reports Israel’s rapidly-growing technology industry “accounts for 14 percent of economic output and 50 percent of exports.” The Israeli Innovation Authority, however, warned the nation faces an estimated shortage “of 10,000 engineers and programmers over the next decade in a market that employs 140,000.” The shortage is particularly concerning for the nation’s approximately 5,000 start-up companies that “compete for talent with development centers of technology giants such as Google, Intel, Microsoft and Apple,” says Reuters, that they have incentivized in ways “that a startup cannot afford.” The shortage has been attributed in part to declining new labor force; computer science, math, and statistics graduates dropped from 3,000 in 2005 to 1,600 in 2008. The government is also “preparing 500 visas for students from abroad who studied science and engineering at Israeli universities so they can stay to work at tech firms for a year.” It also intends to ease “bureaucratic hurdles to unlimited ‘expert visas.’”
Texas A&M Wins DOE Grant To Help India Build Power Grid.
The Houston Chronicle (6/26, Hunn) reports Texas A&M University has won an Energy Department “grant to help India improve its electrical power grid and add energy storage capacity.” The university “is part of a team of scientists from U.S. and Indian government, universities and private companies that received almost $30 million to install new smart grid and energy storage technology to build an ‘advanced distribution grid.’” The DOE grant totals $7.5 million. According to officials, the rest will be covered by India’s Ministry of Science and Technology. DOE officials said that “the technology will help both countries modernize power grids.” In a statement Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, “This new consortium demonstrates the U.S. and Indian commitments to ensuring access to affordable and reliable energy in both countries.” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a statement.
CSMonitor: Renewable Energy Adoption Spreading Across The Globe.
An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor (6/26) claims that the growth in renewable energy adoption stems from “commitment by governments and farsighted businesses to fund cleaner energy sources,” as well as the “plummeting prices of renewables.” Renewables “now account for more than half of new power sources going on line,” which according to the Monitor, means that economic growth and the fight against climate change no longer have to be an either/or equation.
Microsoft Among Companies Forming Working Group To Fight Terrorism.
Reuters (6/26, Fioretti) reports “Facebook, Google’s YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft said on Monday they were forming a global working group to combine their efforts to remove terrorist content from their platforms.” The companies plan to share “technical solutions for removing terrorist content, commission research to inform their counter-speech efforts and work more with counter-terrorism experts.”
Engineering and Public Policy
GTM Research: Solar Projects Would Be Harmed By Trade Tariffs.
The “Morning Energy” blog of Politico (6/26, Wolff) reported a GTM Research report out Monday “finds that if Trump implements the solar import trade tariffs solar panel makers Suniva and SolarWorld Americas are seeking, it could wipe out nearly two-thirds of the solar projects set to be built in the U.S. cumulatively from 2018 through 2022.” The report found “between 36.1 gigawatts and 47.5 gigawatts might fall to the wayside if Trump sets tariffs and minimum prices for imported solar panels and cells.” The report states it “could send shockwaves through the U.S. solar industry.”
Bloomberg News (6/26, Ryan) reports “GTM found the biggest impact of tariffs would likely be on large-scale unity solar farms, which compete as an alternative to natural gas.” Reuters (6/26, Groom) also provides coverage of this story.
Michigan Governor Proposes Changing High School Graduation Requirements To Promote CTE.
The AP (6/26) reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed making his state’s high school graduation rates “more flexible,” including “a mandatory career readiness course.” He said the changes are necessary “to help students fill in-demand jobs in the trades.” Snyder called for lawmakers “to mandate that a career exploration/job skills class be completed in seventh or eighth grade. He said computer science should count to meet a foreign language requirement and that students should be able to fulfill health and physical education requirements by completing career health programs.”
The Mt. Pleasant (MI) Morning Sun (6/26) reports Snyder “announced a new set of partnerships and recommendations aimed at strengthening career technical education throughout the state” called the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance. The proposed changes “are meant to assist students in finding and understanding technical career pathways through several initiatives including curriculum changes, adding resources within school districts and increasing collaboration between educators and employers.”
Crain’s Detroit Business (6/26) reports that under the plan, “people with private sector expertise in the skilled trades would be able to earn an expedited teaching credential to teach vocational courses in Michigan schools.” Snyder “also intends to allow teachers and school counselors to earn required professional development and continuing education credit through externships with local employers or at career-technical centers.”
Code.org Releases Middle School Computer Science Course.
The Seattle Times (6/26) reports about 30 school districts in Washington will implement “CS Discoveries,” the latest computer course developed by the Seattle nonprofit Code.org. The free course will teach seventh, eighth, and ninth graders how to code and introduce them to the computer’s physical components. Code.org is best known for its “Hour of Code” campaign aimed at encouraging children to code with “online tutorials featuring popular characters such as those from Frozen and Star Wars.” Code.org said tens of millions of users have participated in the campaign. Code.org chief executive Hadi Partovi stated, “We realized that middle schools in the country increasingly want to teach computer science and replace outdated tech-ed courses” that teach skills like Internet browsing and typing, which most children already know at that age. The Times notes Code.org also “focuses on teaching computer science to girls, minorities and low-income students – populations typically under-represented in the tech industry.”
Kansas State University Receives Grant For High School STEM Education Program.
The AP (6/26) reports the US Department of Agriculture awarded Kentucky State University a $147,469 grant to be distributed over three years and used to introduce high school students to science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. KSU said it will offer short lectures and hands-on demonstrations to deepen participating students’ understanding of STEM, with a focus on agriculture and aquaculture. The university has already committed to working with seven high schools.
Colorado Universities Host STEM Summer Camps For Girls.
The Denver Post (6/26, Chuang) reports Regis University and the University of Denver announced they are offering girls in middle school full scholarships to attend their SciTech week-long summer camps. The goal is to introduce underrepresented female students to science, technology, engineering, and math subjects and careers. Each girl will “work with female science and technology professors and explore topics from astronomy, computer programming and neuroscience,” and receive a telescope, Raspberry Pi computer, and circuitry to light up their clothing. The Ball Foundation of Broomfield’s Ball Corp. is financing the Regis-hosted SciTech camp, and a “Public Good Fund” grant is supporting the DU camp.
Pennsylvania CTE Students Extended Alternative Graduation Avenue.
Education Week ’s (6/26) “High School and Beyond” blog reports Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law last week a measure granting career and technical education students an alternative path to graduation. Under Pennsylvania law, high school students who intend to graduate in the 2018-19 school year and beyond must pass the Keystone algebra, biology, and literature exams. The new law will allow high school CTE “concentrators” to instead “demonstrate proficiency by completing the academic requirements in Keystone-exam subjects, and earning an industry-recognized credential or showing ‘readiness for continued meaningful engagement’ in their chosen program of study through tests, course grades or other evidence of mastery.” Wolf said in a statement, “With this measure, Pennsylvania will recognize that diversity and will no longer hold all students to the standard of a Keystone Examination, which too often doesn’t reflect the reality of a large sector students’ educational experience.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Autonomous Vehicles Being Tested In More Cities, States.
• Florida International University Launches Internet Of Things Degree.
• CBS’s 60 Minutes Examines Potential And Challenges Of AI.
• Demand For AI For Vehicles Could Reach $14 Billion By 2025.
• WSJournal A1: Shale Revolution Boosts US Petrochemical Production.
• Utah Library System Launches Free Summer STEM Program.
• “International Women In Engineering Day” Promotes Women In STEM Fields.