Leading the News
House To Act On Bipartisan Measure To Expand GI Bill.
The AP (7/13, Yen) reports House Republicans and Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday “that would provide the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade, removing a 15-year time limit to tap into benefits and increasing money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.” House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe said he would schedule a committee vote next week. The bipartisan measure represents “a sweeping effort to fill coverage gaps in the post-9/11 GI Bill amid a rapidly changing job market.”
NCAN Sees Surge In FAFSA Applications.
Diverse Education (7/12, Abdul-Alim) reported data compiled by the National College Access Network (NCAN) show “the percentage of high school seniors who by June 30 had filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (FAFSA) “reached a new high level this year after several years of decline.” NCAN Director of Policy and Advocacy Carrie Warick called the increase “exciting,” saying, “It’s very exciting to see those numbers increase, which means more students – both high school seniors and adults – are considering higher education.”
NYTimes Says Courts Should Enforce ED Rule On For-Profit College Debt.
The New York Times (7/13, Board, Subscription Publication) says in an editorial that “states are still fighting the good fight” against for-profit colleges “that saddle students with crushing debt in exchange for degrees that are essentially useless.” Earlier this year, the Education Department “abruptly suspended federal rules that allow students who have been defrauded by colleges to have their federal loans forgiven,” so 19 states and the District of Columbia took legal action. The Times says that until the department crafts new rules, courts “should require the department to enforce the rules that are already on the books.”
Commentary Considers ED’s Revision Of Student Loan Consumer Protection Rules. Responding to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ plans to revise Obama-era student loan consumer protection rules, the MetroWest (MA) Daily News (7/13) editorializes that while it is “reasonable for DeVos to review the regulations inherited by her from the previous administration,” federal law “ordinarily requires agencies to go through just as open and evidence-based a process to change a rule as to create one.” Forbes (7/13) cartoonist Ed Hall expresses concern that students are “drowning” in debt.
Chronicle of Higher Education (7/13) contributor Nell Gluckman provides an analysis of how the “lawsuit filed last week by a group of state attorneys general against the U.S. Department of Education may indicate that states will ramp up their regulation of the for-profit sector” in response to the rule revision. Bloomberg News (7/13, Dlouhy, Levin) also mentions the lawsuit. Behind a paywall, the Charlotte (NC) Business Journal (7/13, Chemtob, Subscription Publication) focuses on the rule revision’s impact in North Carolina.
Accreditation and Professional Development
MSU Mechanical Engineer Craig Gunn Named ASEE Fellow.
Michigan State University – Today (7/13) reports ASEE named “Craig Gunn, senior academic specialist in the Michigan State University Department of Mechanical Engineering” as an ASEE fellow. The article adds, “ASEE bestowed the honor to 11 new fellows during its 124th annual conference in Columbus, Ohio, June 25-28. The event is the only conference dedicated to all disciplines of engineering education.”
Research and Development
Princeton Scientist Developing Technology To Turn Regular Windows Into Smart Windows.
The Wall Street Journal (7/13, Akst, Subscription Publication) reports a team of scientists from Princeton University have developed a new technology to transition regular windows into smart windows that essentially work as sunglasses for a house. The team coated regular glass with a transparent laminate containing solar cells and invisible electronics that turn the glass panel dark blue on command.
Scientists Develop Silicon Carbide Fibers Capable Of Increasing Heat Resistance Of Rocket Engines.
Scientific American (7/13, Patel) reports about the potential for “fuzzy” silicon carbide nanotubes to “make rocket engines more heat-resistant” and able to be “more fuel-efficient, produce more thrust and…carry larger loads – all key for Mars-bound spacecraft and advanced aircraft.” Scientists at Rice University and NASA’s Glenn Research Center have devised “a possible breakthrough” to prevent the fibers from coming out of their ceramic medium using the “fuzzy” silicon carbide fibers, which are “less likely to slip or pull out of a surrounding ceramic medium because their fuzzy tangles lock them together.”
NASA Finds “Huge Hole” In The Sun.
The Independent (UK) (7/13, Khan) reports that NASA has found a “huge hole” in the Sun that is estimated to be 75,000 miles wide. The hole is being referred to as AR2665. Experts warn that the hole is big enough to produce flares. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory made the discovery. The same experts said it is premature to predict the sun hole’s future behavior. This news is also reported by SPACE. (7/13, Elin Salazar)
Researchers Say Quantum Mechanics Could Shake Up Our Understanding Of Earth’s Magnetic Field.
Gizmodo (7/13, Mandelbaum) reports new research from the Institute for Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Würzburg in Germany suggests “quantum mechanics could shake up our understanding of Earth’s magnetic field.” Study author Giorgio Sangiovanni said, “This is a new idea put into the geophysics research line that nickel has been neglected for the explanation of the geodynamo, the mechanism for creating the magnetic field.” In short, the researchers believe “nickel could reduce the overall conductivity of the core, causing it to retain extra energy that drives convection,” and this new insight “might have a large enough effect that models of the Earth’s magnetic field need some reconsidering.”
Scientists Devise “Fancy 3D Printer Ink” That Could Lead To Self-Healing Phone Screens.
Next Web (7/13, Greene) reports scientists at the University of Melbourne on Thursday “unveiled a new 3D printer ink-gel that is entirely self repairing,” paving the way for “self-healing” smartphone screens. According to the researchers, “Self-healing materials are capable of recovering from damages and restoring their functionality, just like the natural ability of living creatures to repair their tissues, this unique property offers the ability to extend the lifetime of products, which is usually limited by mechanical failures.” The Next Web says the team makes the gel with “a polymer substance that responds to ‘dynamic covalent chemistry,’ which means they can manipulate the ink intentionally over time.” However, the article warns “it might be years before they’re able to solve the problem of making the gel work with touch-screen capability.”
Caltech Changes Manufacturing Process For Reflective Material.
Pasadena (CA) Now (7/13, Velasco) reports that Caltech has discovered how use computer-chip manufacturing technologies in the creation of reflecting materials in safety vests, road signs and running shoes. Support for the project was provided by Northrop Grumman, the Japan Student Services Organization, the US Department of Energy, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and DARPA.
NNSA Releases RFP On LANL Management.
The AP (7/13, Bryan) reports that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) “draft request for proposals” (RFP) to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) covers “everything from worker safety to cybersecurity and transparency. It also suggests that the contractor will be responsible for measuring its own performance and identifying problems without relying solely on federal government oversight.” But the “Los Alamos Study Group and other critics have argued that the federal nuclear agency should play more of a role in management and that the contract should not separate authority from responsibility.” Greg Mello with the study group said, “Federalizing management would allow tremendous streamlining and cost savings, while better protecting employee rights and providing for a less-politicized environment.”
Albuquerque (NM) Business First (7/13, Sapin) also reports on the NNSA’s draft request for proposal for LANL’s management contract. The “48-page document details several requirements for applicants that include ‘providing research and development and scientific capabilities that enable safe nuclear explosive operations’ as well as ‘remediating and restoring the Los Alamos National Laboratory site.’” The lab employs “11,200 in New Mexico and had a fiscal year 2016 budget of $2.45 billion.” In late June, as bidding process for new management to oversee LANL got underway, National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Greg Wolf “said…the contract announcement had nothing to do with safety issues that have been cited at the LANL.” The NNSA’s RFP documents “released July 12 state that an applicant’s ‘past performance’ during the past five years and ‘key personnel’ are the two most important criteria being considered, according to a document describing how bids are evaluated.”
UNM Evaluates Submitting A Proposal. The AP (7/13) reports that the University of New Mexico is “interested in the competition to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.” Joseph Cecchi, a UNM senior adviser on national laboratory relations, “said Thursday that school officials are evaluating the bidding process.” In late 2015 it was announced that Los Alamos National Security LLC “would be losing its contract to manage” LANL “since it failed to earn high enough performance reviews.” Also Thursday, the “National Nuclear Security Administration released its draft request for proposals” detailing the “qualifications that will be required of the next manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory.” In its RFP, the NNSA “calls for the contractor to foster a ‘security conscious culture,’ something watchdog groups have said has been missing.”
New US Sanctions To Target Chinese Firms Over North Korea Ties.
Two “senior US officials” told the Reuters (7/13, Spetalnick, Brunnstrom) that the Administration “could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks.” The new measures would target Chinese entities considered “low-hanging fruit,” including smaller financial institutions and “shell” companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, according to the officials. They declined, however, to name the targets.
Intelligence Officials Closely Watching Key North Korean Scientists. CNN’s Situation Room (7/13) reported that at a “high-profile” awards ceremony to express gratitude for the North Korean scientists responsible for the ICBM tested last week, Kim Jong-un “may have inadvertently given enemies key intelligence about three scientists who drive his missile program.” Sources tell CNN that intelligence agencies “around the world” are watching the three men “carefully – their body language and behavior toward Kim are different from other elites.” According to CNN’s Brian Todd, “they share hugs, smiles and cigarettes with their vicious boss and enjoy privileges not given to most North Koreans.”
Outlet Highlights Siemens’ “Digital Twin” Factory Setup.
The Economist (7/13) reports the Siemens plant in Amberg, Bavaria churns out “industrial computer-control systems, which are essential bits of kit used in a variety of automated systems, including the factory’s own production lines.” The Amberg plant “produces 15m units a year – a tenfold increase since opening in 1989, and without the building being expanded or any great increase in the 1,200 workers employed in three shifts,” with approximately 75 percent of the work automated. The Economist says the “defect rate is close to zero, as 99.9988% of units require no adjustment, a remarkable feat considering they come in more than 1,000 different varieties.” According to The Economist, “such achievements are largely down to the factory’s ‘digital twin’” – another factory, “a virtual version of the physical facility that resides within a computer system.” The digital twin is “identical in every respect and is used to design the control units, test them, simulate how to make them and program production machines,” and then, once “everything is humming along nicely, the digital twin hands over to the physical factory to begin making things for real.”
Business Insider Profiles 3D Printing Company Focused On Helping Businesses.
Business Insider (7/13, Weinberger) reports that Boston-based Formlabs “is one of the companies on the vanguard of a new wave of 3D printing – focusing not on consumers, but rather on helping businesses rethink how they do manufacturing.” CEO and cofounder Max Lobovsky spoke to Business Insider about how the company envisions the dental industry and others could use 3D printing.
Engineering and Public Policy
AAAS Scholar Kei Koizumi Expresses Confusion Over Proposed Climate Debates.
E&E Publishing (7/13, Holden, Subscription Publication) reports American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) visiting scholar in science policy Kei Koizumi said EPA Administrator Scott “Pruitt’s proposal to launch a ‘red team, blue team’ exercise to debate climate science is causing ‘collective head scratching.’” Koizumi said, “Personally, I’m still at a loss. If an AAAS member came and said, ‘I was invited to serve on an EPA commission, what should I do?’ I’m not sure what the answer would be. I’m not sure whether AAAS would have an answer.” Koizumi added that AAAS leaders “as well as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union, have chatted only informally about Pruitt’s initiative.”
Afghan Girls Allowed To Travel To US For Robotics Competition.
The New York Times (7/13, Chokshi, Subscription Publication) reports, “A group of six girls from western Afghanistan will be able to attend an international robotics competition for which they had spent months preparing after the United States this week reversed a decision to deny them entry to the country.” The girls “had twice been denied visas, according to Joe Sestak, the…president of First Global, the nonprofit organizing the event.” Sestak “said that he did not know why the Afghan team’s visa applications were not approved, but that he suspected it stemmed from a backlog of requests or cautious officials concerned that they may overstay their visas.” The Times notes the girls were granted parole, “a process by which United States Citizenship and Immigration Services may temporarily authorize otherwise ineligible visitors on humanitarian grounds or because it benefits the public.” The Times quotes a spokesman saying parole was requested because it would be “in furtherance of U.S. foreign policy interests.”
Another New York Times (7/13, Subscription Publication) article reports, “News of the girls’ rejected attempts to obtain visas went viral last week and stirred up global outrage. The girls had made two separate 500-mile journeys to the American embassy in Kabul, but had still been denied visas,” and “criticism mounted and after Trump was made aware of the case, Politico reported, he called on the National Security Council to look into finding a way for the girls to be given travel permissions.”
The AP (7/13) quotes one of the girls and their mentor, Alireza Mehraban, expressing their happiness at the decision. The Christian Science Monitor (7/13, Velasco) and TIME (7/13, Lui)provide additional coverage.
Trump Reportedly Working On Plan “To Dramatically Scale Back Legal Immigration.”
Politico (7/12, Johnson, Dawsey) reported that President Trump “and his aides are quietly working with…conservative” Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) “to dramatically scale back legal immigration – a move that would mark a fulfillment of one of the president’s biggest campaign promises. Trump plans to get behind a bill being introduced later this summer by” the two lawmakers “that, if signed into law, would slash in half the number of legal immigrants entering the country each year by 2027, according to four people familiar with the conversations.” Cotton and Perdue “have been working closely with Stephen Miller, a senior White House official known for his hawkish stance on immigration. The issue is also a central priority for Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist.”
Trump Considering Quotas, Tariffs On Chinese Steel.
Reuters (7/13, Rascoe) reports President Trump said he is considering quotas and tariffs to deal with the “big problem” of steel dumping from China. “They’re dumping steel and destroying our steel industry, they’ve been doing it for decades, and I’m stopping it. It’ll stop,” he told reporters on Air Force One en route to France. “There are two ways: quotas and tariffs. Maybe I’ll do both,” he said. Politico (7/13, Palmer) reports the President’s comments came as the Commerce Department is “preparing to make its recommendation in two separate investigations into whether it is necessary to restrict steel and aluminum imports in order to protect national security.”
New Memphis Summer Learning Programs, From STEM To Art, Help Fight “Learning Loss.”
Chalkbeat (7/13, Brighenti) reports that this summer, for the first time, Memphis offered a variety of new education programs in an effort to prevent “summer learning loss”, a phenomenon that is “a large contributor to the achievement gap.” The programs, ranging “from STEM and robotics to art and test prep,” were introduced to provide opportunities for low-income students who “usually don’t get the same summer enrichment opportunities as their more affluent peers.” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland “estimated that 10,000 children and teens are being reached this summer.”
“Elevate [Math]” Summer Program Aimed At Helping Kids Improve Math Skills.
The San Jose (CA) Mercury News (7/13, Brassil) reports that the Silicon Valley Education Foundation is sponsoring “Elevate [Math],” a new summer program which “covers Common Core-aligned topics, like variables, linear equations and graphs as well as beginning algebra and geometry.” Elevate [Math] is targeted towards “Bay Area students between 6th and 10th grade who just barely missed meeting the required standards on California’s annual standardized exams.” The goal of the program is to help improve students math skills and to help them become more engaged in school by providing out of classroom activities like college visits and “corporate guest speakers lead in-class activities, called STEM workshops.”
Dev Bootcamp Announces It Will Close Its Doors.
The Chicago Tribune (7/13, Meyerson) reports that Dev Bootcamp, “one of the earliest companies to launch an intensive coding school program,” announced Wednesday in an email to alumni that it will be closing its doors on Dec. 8. Dev Bootcamp President Tarlin Ray stated in the letter, “Despite tremendous efforts from a lot of talented people, we’ve determined that we simply can’t achieve a sustainable business model without compromising our mission of delivering a high-quality coding education that is accessible to a diverse population of students.”
Flight Night Drone Institute Teaches Tulsa Educators To Build, Fly Drones.
The Tulsa (OK) World (7/13, Pickard) reports that Flight Night Drone Institute, “a nonprofit focused on STEM programs and projects,” has trained 85 teachers and staff from more than 20 school districts to fly drones. The program was aimed at instructing teachers “to design, develop, program and fly drones so they can train their students to do the same.” Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance communications coordinator Sabrina Bevins said, “Learning to build and fly drones helps students develop problem-solving skills needed in the workforce of various industries in Oklahoma.”
Six Students From Hunterdon County, New Jersey Compete And Win At FCCLA Leadership Conference in Nashville.
NJ News (7/13, Roberts) reports that “six students from Hunterdon County Polytech’s Teacher Academy and Early Childhood Education Program recently competed at the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Leadership Conference,” held earlier this month in Nashville. Each member of the group “earned either a gold or a silver national medal.”
Preliminary Findings Of New Study Suggests Wearing Lab Coats May Help Inspire Kids To Be Scientists.
NJ News (7/13, Rojas) reports that education professors Lauren Madden and Marissa Bellino and recent graduate Rachel DiVanno, along with researchers from North Carolina State and East Carolina universities, teamed up to study “how elementary school students view themselves as scientists and engineers when wearing lab coats and whether it influences their learning.” The study consisted of 80 students at Bear Tavern Elementary School – “two traditional classes and two classes from the school’s STEM Academy” – with one class from each program wearing the lab coat for 10 lessons. Madden stated, “Preliminary findings suggest that those who wore the lab coats had improved self-efficacy, or confidence in their abilities, and could better identify careers in science.”
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Tech Giants Join Online Protest Against Net Neutrality Repeal.
• ED Begins Process Of Revising Student Loan Consumer Protection Rules.
• Carnegie Mellon Researchers Make Progress In Exoskeleton Technology.
• Scientists Around The World Advance Biofuels Research.
• iPhone 8 Could Face “3 to 4 Week” Delay Amid Touch ID, Software Issues.
• WSJournal Analysis: Aging Waterway Infrastructure In US Near Breaking Point.
• Research: Students Who See Science As Collaborative Field More Likely To Pursue STEM Careers.