Leading the News
Ford Executive Touts “Great Progress” Made On Driverless Cars.
USA Today (7/2, Snavely) reports that Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering and chief technology officer, Ken Washington, said the company is making “great progress” toward “deploying its first fully self-driving car by 2021.” He said, “We don’t worry too much about where the competitors are. … What we are worried about is how do we bring this technology to market in a way that’s a fit (for customers). And that’s what we are focused on.” After acquiring a major stake in Argo AI, which was “co-founded last year by Google car project veteran Bryan Salesky and Uber engineer Peter Rander,” the piece says Ford is relying heavily on the company “to take the lead on the development of the brains of its self-driving car.”
Car and Driver (6/30, Bigelow) reported Washington said in a Medium blog post , “I can tell you there’s so much going on in the world of advanced engineering, it’s imperative that we maintain a crystal-clear focus on the most important elements to help us achieve our vision of changing the way the world moves,” Washington added, “This means you’ll likely see at least two separate fleets of self-driving vehicles on the road, one led by the Ford team conducting advanced research and another by Argo AI.”
Hackett: Ford On “Shot Clock” To Execute Plans. The Wall Street Journal (6/30, Rogers, Subscription Publication) reported Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett told analysts last week that he has put the company on a “shot clock” to enact key investment and management decisions.
Indiana’s Hanover College Will No Longer Require Applicant SAT, ACT Scores.
The Indianapolis Star (7/2) reports Southern Indiana’s Hanover College announced that for the 2018-19 academic year, it will no longer consider SAT or ACT scores as an admission prerequisite. The school is Indiana’s ninth higher education institution and one of more than 960 “public and private accredited institutions across the nation” to adopt a “test optional” or “test flexible” policy. Hanover and many other schools have argued standardized test scores do not adequately reflect applicants’ effort or perseverance, and the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing said test-prep classes and tutors are often inaccessible to low-income students. Meanwhile, the College Board, which administers the SAT, claimed research supports the test’s use as a valid predictor of college outcomes, such as grade-point average, retention, and graduation. It has also argued high school grades cannot offer the same perspectives “because they are subject to variables such as school demographics, teacher discretion and state and district standards.”
Kansas Online Database Outline College Degree Costs, Benefits.
The Salina (KS) Journal (7/1) reported the Kansas Board of Regents’ rollout of its KSDegreeStats.org tool last year provided prospective students information about the state’s seven public universities. On Friday, the board announced the addition of every two-year degree available at in-state public schools. The board’s communications director, Breeze Richardson, said the online tool outlines average costs, scholarship offerings, and student loan debt for each program. The Journal noted that the tool found out of the more than 1,000 degree programs offered by the state’s 32 public two- and four-year colleges and universities, a Pratt Community College associate’s degree to become an electrical lineman is “the fastest route” to a high salary, with the average graduate earning just under $100,000 annually five years after graduation.
Research and Development
James Madison University Repurposes Medical Particle Accelerator For Research.
The Harrisonburg (VA) Daily News Record (7/1, Bradshaw) reports that associate professor of physics and astronomy Adriana Banu of James Madison University recently showcased a low-energy linear particle accelerator that had been used in radiation therapy at the former Rockingham Memorial Hospital and has now been “repurposed for scientific research.” The piece reports that Banu said that “having a linac will provide undergraduates a rare opportunity to work with the equipment” and “should help the university recruit top physics students out of high school because they’ll be able to learn new skills that directly translate to the operation of larger, more powerful accelerators available to postgraduate students.”
Researchers At University Of Minnesota Working To Advance Sustainable Energy Science.
The AP (7/1, Chao) reports that researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Biorefining for the past 15 years have worked “to advance the future of sustainable energy” by researching “ways to convert waste into valuable resources like energy and food.” The piece describes a number of projects that researchers of the center are pursuing, including one that “involves converting scum, a byproduct of treating wastewater, into usable biofuel.”
Expert: Small Players Also Innovating In The Cloud.
According to an industry expert, reports Fortune (6/30), innovation in the cloud isn’t being driven only by the top players like Amazon, Google, Microsoft. Al Sadowsky, a research VP at 451 Research, says that a “raft of other, smaller players are doing their bit to make data centers more efficient, more adaptable, and easier to manage.” He “cites the work that Equinix (eqix) is doing with its home-grown data center management software.” A second company Sadowsky points to is Backblaze, a “feisty startup that made waves by claiming to store customers’ archival data storage data cheaper than any of the name-brand cloud providers.”
Indiana Agriculture Sector Lacks Workers With STEM Skills.
The Terre Haute (IN) Tribune Star (7/2) profiles Greg Schneider, an agriculture teacher in Indiana’s Greensburg Community Schools. The piece reports that Schneider sees a great deal of interest in agricultural studies among his students, but says “recent studies show that the number of people entering the agriculture industry can’t keep up with growing demand in the workplace.” Noting that US Department of Agriculture data show that some 40% of agriculture jobs are unfilled, the piece quotes Dawes, director for strategy and innovation at AgriNovus Indiana, an initiative to promote entrepreneurship in Indiana agriculture, saying, “We are going to need more in terms of electronic engineers or data scientists, business analysts and people with finance backgrounds.”
Coal Industry Increasingly Hiring Workers With Advanced Skill Sets.
The Omaha (NE) World-Herald (7/2) reports on President Trump’s campaign promises related to bringing back coal mining jobs, but notes that “miners no longer swing pickaxes or wield shovels.” The piece reports that coal companies “are starting to search for workers who can crunch gigabytes of data or use a joystick to maneuver mining vehicles hundreds of miles away.”
NYTimes A1: Women Entrepreneurs In Silicon Valley Recount Sexual Harassment Experiences.
A New York Times (6/30, A1, Benner, Subscription Publication) front-page analysis reports that a number of female Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have come forward to tell their stories of being sexually harassed. The Times says the “tech industry has long suffered a gender imbalance” and says that many companies, including Google and Facebook, have acknowledged the low number of women in their ranks. More than two dozen women spoke to the Times to recount their stories, which the piece says “explain[s] why the venture capital and start-up ecosystem — which underpins the tech industry and has spawned companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon — has been so lopsided in terms of gender.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Trump Revives National Space Council, Will Be Led By Pence.
The AP (6/30) reports President Trump signed an executive order Friday to revive the National Space Council. The council, which will be led by Vice President Pence, will consist of “the secretaries of state, defense, commerce, transportation and homeland security, as well as the head of NASA, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the national security adviser and the director of national intelligence.” Bloomberg News (6/30, Olorunnipa, Sink, Hull) reports Trump said during the signing ceremony, “Space exploration is not only essential to our character as a nation but our economy and our great nation’s security.” He added that “privatization of certain aspects is going to play an important role.” The Wall Street Journal (6/30, Pasztor, Subscription Publication) reports Trump also said the council “sends a clear signal to the world that we are restoring America’s proud legacy of leadership in space.”
SPACE (6/30) reports Pence said, “With the action he takes today, President Trump will bring a renewed sense of purpose to America’s space policy.” In a tweet , Pence added he is “honored and frankly enthusiastic about the role @POTUS has asked me to play in renewing our nation’s commitment to space.” Former executive secretary of the council Mark Albrecht also praised Pence, saying he “is ready and able to lead an active and energetic Space Council team and agenda to ensure U.S. space pre-eminence for decades to come, and do so faster and more efficiently than ever before.”
FBI, DHS Warn Of Cyberattacks Against Nuclear, Energy Firms.
Reuters (6/30, Finkle) reports the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a joint report this week “warn[ing] industrial firms…about a hacking campaign targeting the nuclear and energy sectors, the latest event to highlight the power industry’s vulnerability to cyber attacks.” The FBI and DHS discovered that “since at least May, hackers used tainted ‘phishing’ emails to ‘harvest credentials’ so they could gain access to networks of their targets.” In the report, which was dated June 28 and reviewed by Reuters on Friday, the FBI and DHS said, “Historically, cyber actors have strategically targeted the energy sector with various goals ranging from cyber espionage to the ability to disrupt energy systems in the event of a hostile conflict.”
Source: Trump Administration Considering Effort To Examine Climate Science.
The Washington Post (7/1, Dennis, Eilperin) reports the Trump administration is mulling “whether to launch a governmentwide effort to question the science of climate change,” a move opponents “say is an attempt to undermine the long-established consensus human activity is fueling the Earth’s rising temperatures.” The effort, “driven by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, has sparked a debate among top Trump administration officials over whether to pursue such a strategy.” A top White House official “said that while Pruitt has expressed interest in the idea, ‘there are no formal plans within the administration to do anything about it at this time.’” Energy Secretary Rick Perry “also is involved in the effort, two officials said.” E&E Publishing (6/30, Subscription Publication) reports climate scientists are concerned “that the ‘red team, blue team’ concept could politicize scientific research and disproportionately elevate the views of a relatively small number of experts who disagree with mainstream scientists.”
The Hill (6/30, Cama) reports Pruitt and Perry “have been talking up the ‘red team, blue team’ idea in recent weeks for climate science.” Last month, Pruitt told Breitbart “that the debate would be good.” He stated, “What the American people deserve, I think, is a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2.” The Washington Examiner (7/2, Shepherd) also provides coverage of this story.
Former Irish PM Says Trump’s Climate Cuts To Hurt Most Vulnerable. Reuters (6/30, Whiting) reported that former Irish president Mary Robinson is warning that consequences of the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord could impact people most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, particularly those in poor countries that could suffer from funding gaps. On June 1, President Trump said he would stop US contribution to the $10 billion Green Climate Fund, which established under the Obama administration “to help the poorest countries adapt to climate change and adopt clean energy systems.”
Afghan Girls Competing In Robotics Challenge Despite Obstacles.
The Washington Post (7/2, Erickson) reports on what it considers a “plucky bunch” of Afghan teens who would not let the threat of danger or bureaucratic red tape stop their dream of competing in the FIRST Global Challenge, “an international robotics competition.” Participants “received their raw materials in March,” but the Herat-bound package “had been held up for months amid concerns about terrorism.” So the “young engineers improvised,” built “motorized machines from household materials,” and traveled twice to the US Embassy in Kabul to apply for visas. Their applications were denied and the heartbroken girls will “have to watch their robot compete” in DC via Skype. Nonetheless, “on their competition page, the girls wrote: We want to make a difference, and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great.”
Philadelphia Schools Implementing STEAM Programs.
Philadelphia Inquirer (7/2, Boccella) reports on efforts geared toward “blending science, art, and design” at Holy Child Academy, a private K-8 Catholic school in Philadelphia. The piece describes work being done by students focused on robotics, multimedia publishing, and other creative projects, and says that the schools “recently installed $150,000 lab is just one outpost in a rapidly advancing education movement called STEAM.”
Georgia Students Graduate From Cyber Warrior Academy.
The Gainesville (GA) Times (7/1) reported the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency sponsored the 10-day National Cyber Warrior Academy at the University of North Georgia. Forty students selected from 182 camp applicants graduated from the academy on Saturday after first “learning how to hack a car with a computer, break into computer systems and race drones.” The Times noted the NSA and NSF provided an $86,000 grant to pay for the students’ expenses. UNG Center for Cyber Operations Education director and computer science professor Bryson Payne said the camp is one of 130 sponsored by the NSF and NSA, which funded the “program hoping, of course, a few will go into federal positions or military positions in cybersecurity, but people who work for regular businesses – health care, education, hospitals” as well. Payne added that the NSA and Homeland Security Department designated UNG as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense from 2016-2021.
Friday’s Lead Stories
• Petya Attack Rationale May Have Been Sabotage Rather Than Money.
• Spelman Professor Working To Promote Data Science, Analytics Skills For Minority Students.
• Cooperative Drone Project Aims To Get More Accurate Weather Forecasts.
• iPhone Engineer: No Screens In The Future.
• Bipartisan Energy Bill Introduced By Murkowski, Cantwell.
• Study: California Transitional Kindergarten Improves School Readiness In Math, Reading.