Leading the News
Perry Says Electric Grid Study Intended To Assess Political Bent In Energy Policy.
The Hill (6/27, Henry) reports that while speaking at an Energy Information Administration conference on Tuesday, Perry “defended his department’s study into the reliability of the electric grid.” He acknowledged that the study is intended to reassess federal policies on fossil fuels in light of its diminishing role in the electric sector. Perry stated, “I recognize markets have had a role in the evolution of our energy mix, but no reasonable person can deny the thumb, or even the whole hand, if you will, has been put on the scale in favor of certain political outcomes.” The Daily Caller (6/27, Bastasch) quoted Perry as saying, “politically-driven policies, driven primarily by a hostility to coal, threatened the reliability and the stability of the greatest electrical grid in the world,” at the conference on Tuesday morning.
The Houston Chronicle (6/27, Handy) reports that the natural gas industry is concerned that the DOE’s study of the electric grid is meant as “an effort to revive struggling coal and nuclear plants.” The American Petroleum Institute is urging the department not to move too quickly. According to Erica Bowman, chief economist at API, coal and nuclear “are far slower when you compare them to a lot of the technology natural gas plants have.”
The Washington Examiner (6/27, Siciliano) reports that Perry said one of his goals at the Energy Department is to “make nuclear energy cool again.” He says that the nuclear industry has been “strangled all too often by government regulations.” The article notes that nuclear reactors in the U.S. are becoming “too expensive to run” because of “increased cost pressures and competition from natural gas.” The Dallas Morning News (6/27, Gillman) reports that Perry also used the conference to praise clean coal technology, touting the Petra Nova plant in Houston that “uses a process to remove 90 percent of the carbon dioxide after coal is burned to generate energy in a clean way. Then it uses that captured carbon for enhanced oil recovery.”
FERC Member: Wind, Solar Do Not Destabilize Grid. Reuters (6/27, Gardner) reports that “Wind and solar power does not make the U.S. electricity grid less stable, an outgoing federal regulator said on Tuesday, as the Trump administration readies a study that will examine whether renewable energy has had a harmful effect.” The article adds that “Colette Honorable, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a conference that renewables have different attributes than base load power, which includes coal and nuclear energy, and that those difference need to be overcome.” However, Reuters adds, “Honorable stressed that record amounts of wind and solar power had been generated recently without harming the grid.”
Carnegie Mellon Launching New Artificial Intelligence Initiative.
Fortune (6/27) reports that the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University is launching a new artificial intelligence initiative which is “intended to better prepare students for entering the workforce.” Forbes reports that the goal of the program is “to train students to build complex software systems or powerful robots that utilize multiple different AI technologies.”
Maricopa Community Colleges To Appeal Ruling Denying In-state Tuition For Dreamers.
The Arizona Republic (6/28, Ryman) reports the Maricopa County Community College District voted 4-3 on Tuesday in favor of appealing a court ruling that denies in-state tuition to DACA recipients. The AP (6/28) reports, “Last week’s Court of Appeals decision overruled a judge’s 2015 decision that said students in the program created by former President Barack Obama were considered legally present in the U.S. and qualify for in-state tuition.”
Dreamers “Pressuring” Maricopa Community College District To Weigh In On In-State Tuition Issue. Agencia EFE (ESP) (6/27) reports that DACA recipients in Arizona “are playing their last card” in order to maintain in-state status for university tuition purposes by “pressuring” the Maricopa County Community College District.
Illinois’ $14.6 Billion In Unpaid Bills Hurts Hospitals, Dentists, University.
On its front page, the Wall Street Journal (6/27, A1, Mahtani, Belkin, Subscription Publication) reports a standoff between Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and state House Speaker Michael Madigan threatens to extend into a third fiscal year on July 1 and further increase the state’s $14.6 billion in unpaid bills. A spokesman for Madigan said a compromise has been difficult to reach because their visions on how to fix the state differ significantly. Meanwhile, the unpaid bills increasingly are affecting local communities throughout the state. With unpaid Medicaid bills hitting hospitals and dentists hard, some healthcare providers say they’re asking for cash payment and delaying expansion plans due to uncertainty. In Springfield, tax revenue is down, tourism revenue has decreased as the state fair grounds are closed, and the state’s utility bills go unpaid. The budget crisis also is threatening the survival of Eastern Illinois University and college town Charleston, and road repair projects are due to come to a halt on June 30.
Research and Development
Vanderbilt Researchers Using Capillary-Like Polymer Threads To Create Circuits.
IHS Electronics360 (6/27) reports a pair of researchers at Vanderbilt University have embedded silver nanowires in a polymer to make a simple circuit board, saying that the “potential applications, for industries including healthcare in the military, are huge.” The wires “are held together within the polymer close enough to touch and form an electrical conduit, similar to the traces of a circuit board. The tiny network stays operational in water warmed by a hot plate; when the heat source is turned off, the nanowire network disintegrates and the conductive path is destroyed.”
Oklahoma State, Three Other Colleges Using Drones To Collect Weather Research Data.
The Stillwater (OK) News Press (6/27) reports that Oklahoma State University is partnering with universities in Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Nebraska to collect weather data using drones with the goal of increasing the typical warning for tornado from 12 minutes to 60 minutes. Students are flying the drones at OSU’s Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station near Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Vanderbilt Engineers Build Vacuum Hat Filled With Coffee Grounds To Track Surgery Patients’ Head Movements.
Medgadget (6/26) reports Vanderbilt University engineers “have developed a silicon filled with coffee grounds to track patient head movements and orientation during delicate nose and throat surgery.” The device is placed on the patient’s head and the air is sucked out of it creating a rigid form that adheres closely to the head. The exterior is covered in reflective markings that are tracked by sensors.
Boeing Announces New Georgia Tech Research Center.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (6/27, Trubey) reports that “aerospace giant Boeing announced Tuesday the opening of a new research center at Georgia Tech that the company said would help the company overcome technical hurdles in manufacturing.” The Journal-Constitution adds, “Boeing, maker of military equipment and passenger airliners such as the 737 and 787 Dreamliner, said the new facility would pair Tech students and Boeing researchers on help implement industrial automation.” The article quotes Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop saying, “This advanced center will let Georgia Tech students collaborate with Boeing engineers to help drive the development of innovative factory automation solutions in aerospace.” The article also states that “the flurry of new research and development centers and corporate campuses in Midtown reflect the desire of companies to tap into Tech’s rich student and faculty talent.”
Bionik Labs Partners With Wistron To Develop Exoskeleton Technologies For Consumer Medical Device Market.
Mass Device (6/27, Densford) reports that Bionik Laboratories and Wistron “are partnering to design, engineer and manufacture low-price lower-body assistive robotic technologies for the consumer medical device market.” Their designs “will be based on Bionik’s currently-in-development Arke lower body exoskeleton, which is being designed for rehabilitation use, and will incorporate other intellectual property from Bionik.” Initially, the technologies will be targeted at Asian markets.
Research Shows Analyzing Social Media Can Help Detect Crime.
Engadget (6/27) reports Twitter has “proven itself as an invaluable platform for information sharing during social crises,” and new research “has shown its ability to detect serious incidents much faster than police reports.” Cardiff University researchers analyzed data from the London riots in 2011 and found that “computer systems could automatically scan through Twitter and identify potentially dangerous occurrences, such as windows being broken and cars being set on fire, long before they were reported to the Metropolitan Police Service.” The computer system “could also identify Twitter rumors about where riots were likely to take place, as well real-time information about areas where people were gathering.” Research Dr. Pete Burnap is quoted as saying, “We will never replace traditional policing resource on the ground but we have demonstrated that this research could augment existing intelligence gathering and draw on new technologies to support more established policing methods.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Silicon Valley Raises Concerns Over Immigration Reforms.
CNBC (6/27) reports, “Tension over immigration reform is rising in Silicon Valley.” CNBC highlights the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday that “let President Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban go into effect for some travelers,” and a report that the Administration “may scrap the new ‘start-up visa’” as some of the issues that concern Silicon Valley. CNBC adds that Trump signed an executive order in April calling for a comprehensive review of the H-1B visa, which “has been a favorite of the tech industry.” CNBC notes that employer applications for H-1B visas in fiscal 2018 “declined for the first time in years, according to a report from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released in April.”
Everly: Two Recent Studies Show Hydraulic Fracturing Minimally Affects Environment.
Steve Everly, spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas, writes for the Houston Chronicle (6/27, Everley) that researchers released two major studies last month showing there are few environmental risks posed by oil and gas development. The USGS study found hydraulic fracturing was not a major threat to groundwater, a concurrent finding with the EPA’s comprehensive report released last December. Second, an NOAA research scientist found that oil and gas operations pose less a threat to air quality than previously thought because prior methane emissions studies used measurements taken during peak emission events, which are not reflective of average emissions. Everly says, “Whether you support fracking or have concerns, these studies should be seen as good news. … Regulators and policymakers should also take note of the new findings.”
Minnesota Solar Project Is Now Completed.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (6/27, Hughlett) reports the Aurora project, “one of the largest solar energy initiatives in Minnesota…has been completed, its owner said Tuesday.” The project “features 16 separate solar power plants in Minnesota that together will provide electricity to Xcel Energy under a long-term contract.” The solar project “is owned by Enel Green Power North America and can produce 100 megawatts of power, enough for over 17,000 homes.”
Fate Of North Carolina Renewable Energy Deal In Doubt.
The AP (6/27, Robertson) reports “the future of legislation agreed upon by renewable energy interests and Duke Energy to extend the utility’s requirements to use more alternative power in North Carolina” is in jeopardy “as a key senator repeats his attempts to delay wind energy permits through 2020.” The bill aims to change how Duke “purchases electricity through solar, biomass and other options cleared the House earlier this month by a wide margin.” The AP adds “bill managers had warned against making significant changes that could scuttle the agreement.” The Senate’s version of the bill “unveiled this week adds a moratorium on wind facility permits sought starting last year by Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown of Jacksonville, home of Camp Lejeune.” The senator “wants the wait to give time for an outside group to complete maps laying out locations where high-altitude wind farms could pose a threat to jet and helicopter missions and other operations of eastern North Carolina military installations.”
Wind Farm Operators Look To Megaturbines.
Reuters (6/27, Jacobsen, Eckert) reports operators of wind farms “are betting on a new generation of colossal turbines,” as they aim “to remain profitable after European countries phase out subsidies that have defined the green industry since the 1990s.” EnBW, Vattenfall and DONG Energy, the three “leading offshore wind operators” in the world, each “told Reuters they were looking to these megaturbines to help adapt to the upcoming reality with dwindling government handouts.” A prototype of a megaturbine is expected to be built “by next year and the first farms could be up and running in the first half of the next decade.”
Texas High School Students Demonstrate Firefighter Mask Condensation Removal Invention At MIT Event.
The Houston Chronicle (6/27) reports a group of students from Cypress Springs High School in Cypress, Texas took part in the 11th annual EurekaFest event at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The students demonstrated an invention intended to remove condensation from the facemasks worn by firefighters.
High School Students Take Part In Cyber Innovation Challenge At California Cyber Training Complex.
The San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune (6/24) reports that 16 teams of high school students from across California “received first-hand experience investigating a cyber attack Saturday – albeit a fake one” at this year’s Cyber Innovation Challenge, which took place at the new California Cyber Training Complex at Camp San Luis. “Students took part in two exercises, including one that simulated an investigation into a cyber-attack plot in which students searched ‘suspect’ vehicles for both physical and digital evidence.”
Education Groups Choose Four CTE Projects Financed By ED’s “Pay For Success” Program.
In “High School & Beyond,” Education Week (6/27, Gewertz) reports education group Jobs for the Future and finance organization Social Finance announced four CTE projects that will launch through the US Department of Education’s “pay for success” grant program. The groups won a $2 million grant from the department last October to seek possible projects.
Code.org Pushing For Coding Courses In All US Public Schools.
The New York Times (6/27, Singer, Subscription Publication) reports Silicon Valley companies are pushing for coding courses in schools, “thanks largely to the marketing prowess of Code.org, an industry-backed nonprofit group.” The organization’s goal is to “get every public school in the United States to teach computer science.” In just a few years, Code.org has raised more than $60 million from Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce, and has “helped to persuade two dozen states to change their education policies and laws.” It also offers free introductory coding lessons, called Hour of Code, which over 100 million students globally have tried. The company has “emerged as a new prototype for Silicon Valley education reform,” but its “multilevel influence machine also raises the question of whether Silicon Valley is swaying public schools to serve its own interests — in this case, its need for software engineers — with little scrutiny.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Trump Administration To Focus On Energy This Week.
• Students Of Fraudulent For-Profit Colleges Still Waiting For Debt Relief.
• Duke University Students Design 3D-Printed Spinal Cages.
• Israeli Government, Start-Ups Address Projected Technology Workforce Shortage.
• Microsoft Among Companies Forming Working Group To Fight Terrorism.
• GTM Research: Solar Projects Would Be Harmed By Trade Tariffs.
• Michigan Governor Proposes Changing High School Graduation Requirements To Promote CTE.