Leading the News
After Struggle For Visas, Afghan Girls Compete In First Global Robotics Competition.
The New York Times (7/18, Cochrane, Subscription Publication) reports that after “an international outcry and intervention from President Trump and other officials,” six members of an all-girl Afghan robotics team were allowed “to the United States for participation in First Global, an international robotics contest.” The Times portrays the girls as the “stars” of the competition, having drawn praise for their perseverance in their struggle to travel to the us. The article describes the competition, and says that while the Afghan girls “did not place in the top ranks overall, their final performance, they agreed, was better than they had hoped for.”
PBS NewsHour (7/18) aired a segment on the competition, also focused on the Afghan girls. This piece explains that the competition “is part of an effort to get more young people, particularly from underrepresented countries, to enter STEM fields.” The AP (7/18, Gresko) reports on some of the other stories from the competition.
Renowned Engineering Professor Discusses New Role As Dean Of Princeton’s College Of Engineering.
The Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier (7/18) interviews Mung Chiang, who in May was named the Purdue University College of Engineering dean. Purdue President Mitch Daniels described the electrical engineering professor and former Princeton University Keller Center for Innovations in Engineering Education director as “one of the genuine superstars of American engineering and higher education.” Notably, Chiang “won the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, one of the highest honors given to U.S. scientists and engineers under 35, in 2013 for his research to design simpler and more powerful wireless networks.” In the interview Friday, “Chiang discussed his admiration for the university, Purdue engineering and what he’s learned during his first two weeks as dean.”
Mitchell Pushes Bill To Get Information On College Academic, Employment Outcomes.
Politico Morning Education (7/18) reports that Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), a former CEO at a for-profit college, “co-sponsored the House bill that’s part of a new, bipartisan effort in Congress to overturn a decade-old federal prohibition on tracking the educational and employment outcomes of college students. The goal is to arm consumers with better data about colleges and universities.”
Roe, Walz Propose Expanding Education Benefits Under GI Bill.
The Washington Post (7/18, Shapiro) reports Rep. Phil Roe, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, and Rep. Tim Walz, the ranking Democrat, introduced Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which is aimed at significantly expanding the education benefits under the GI Bill “by allowing a longer time frame for using that assistance.” Specifically, the proposed measure “would remove the 15-year cap for benefits that had forced veterans to ‘use it or lose it,’” therefore allowing eligible veterans to return “to school at any time for life.” The measure would also “open eligibility for future generations of veterans,” and “restore benefits to veterans affected by school closures, including a retroactive provision to offer relief for those who lost benefits because of the recent shutdown of the for-profit ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian College.” The Post says the so-called Forever GI Bill “is receiving widespread support among veterans groups, including Student Veterans of America, Got Your 6 and the Travis Manion Foundation.”
Commentary: Modernized GI Bill Can Help Fill Anticipated Manufacturing Job Vacancies. George W. Bush Institute Military Service Initiative director Miguel Howe, in a piece for The Hill (7/18, Howe, Contributor) “Pundits Blog,” says “nearly half of the veterans transitioning from military to civilian life enter higher education, and two-thirds of them are first generation college students,” according to the Student Veterans of America. Howe says, and adds that veterans are particularly “well-positioned to fill” the anticipated two million unfilled “new manufacturing” jobs in the next decade. “Since the post-9/11 GI Bill was signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, early reports have found a possible $8 return for every $1 spent, correlating to a positive economic impact,” and lawmakers are “finally addressing the skills gap by modernizing the post-9/11 GI Bill.” Howe commends the measure, but adds that “the onus now falls on higher education leaders and institutions to step up and recruit this valuable population of veterans.”
New GI Bill To Include Restoration Of Benefits For Students Of Shuttered For-Profits. Politico Morning Education (7/18) reports that the GI Bill Expansion bill being fast tracked through the House will “include a full reinstatement of educational benefits for veterans affected by the sudden closures of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech.” The previous version of the bill would only have restored a single semester of benefits.
Research and Development
Notre Dame Breaks Research Funding Record.
The South Bend (IN) Tribune (7/17) reports that officials at the University of Notre Dame have announced that the school “has received $138.1 million in research funding for fiscal year 2017, surpassing the previous record of $133.7 million set in fiscal year 2015.” President Rev. John I. Jenkins “credited the efforts of the faculty as well as the work of Robert Bernhard, vice president of research,” saying, “It advances Notre Dame’s reputation as a national research university, and it represents a welcome infusion of spending in South Bend.”
Inside INdiana Business (7/17) reports that Bernhard “says fundraising success by Indiana’s highest-profile research institutions is bucking national trends.” The article reports that sizable grants went to the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory, the College of Engineering’s Center for Low Energy Systems Technology, and the Department of Theology.
Stony Brook Researchers Create Smart Watch Text Entry Technology.
The Deccan (IND) Chronicle (7/18) reports that researchers at Stony Brook University’s Department of Computer Science have developed “a rotational keyboard that will be used to enter text into smartwatches without the need for a touchscreen.” The COMPASS technology “is a text entry method that is based in the bezel of the watch, allowing the user to rotate three cursors that will enable them to select which letter they want to type. After selecting their letter, the locations of the cursors are then dynamically optimised to reduce the distance of the next rotation.”
DOE Gives Clemson Grant To Study Energy Efficiency Through Automated Vehicle Technology.
The Greenville (SC) News (7/18) reports the Department of Energy has given researchers at Clemson University “roughly $1.16 million to research the use of connected and automated vehicle technology to help boost energy efficiency.” The grant is part of DOE’s “$19.4 million investment package through the Vehicle Technologies Office for more than a dozen projects nationwide.” The project is focused on “research of advanced battery, lightweight materials, engine technologies and energy efficient mobility systems.”
GM, Army Engineers Develop Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Powered Electric Truck.
The Los Angeles Times (7/19, Cardine) reports General Motors and the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) have developed a “hydrogen fuel-cell powered electric truck…that can move quickly and stealthily over sand and rocks, acting as a zero-emissions power generator capable of creating water as a by-product.” The team showed of a ZH2 hydrogen fuel-cell electric Chevy Colorado prototype last week.
NASA Looking Into Creating Rocket Fuel On Mars.
Wired UK (7/4, Beall) reports that NASA is looking into creating rocket fuel on Mars with the 2012 start of the In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) research. The researchers are working to find the best way to create rocket fuel. Michigan Tech University Senior Lecturer Paul van Susante believes that mining space resources is required for long-term space travel to become reality.
New Planet Formation Research Published.
SPACE (7/18, Emspak) reports that finding thousands of “alien planets” with most categorized as “super-Earths” or rocky worlds, ranging in size from Earth to Neptune, contradicts astronomer understanding of planet formation. University of Arizona Postdoctoral Researcher Ruobing Dong with his colleagues suggest that “super-Earths can carve out multiple gaps in the disks of gas and dust that surround young stars.” The university’s team used computer simulations to reproduce and synchronize telescope observations made of younger stars with its protoplanetary disks still intact. The Astrophysical Journal published the results in its July 13 issue that may help explain disconnects between planet-formation theories and the known exoplanet population in that, “Gas giants may not be necessary to carve out gaps.”
Ars Technica Review Says Bosch-Modified Autonomous Car “Performed Flawlessly.”
Ars Technica (7/18, Gitlin) reviews a modified Tesla Model S sedan at the Bosch Mobility Experience that is “one of a number of research vehicles that the engineering company is using to develop autonomous driving components and systems to sell to car companies.” Ars Technica outlines the differences between the levels of autonomous vehicles and contends that “on the demonstration drive, the system performed flawlessly.” Ars Technica added “vehicle-to-vehicle communication alerted it (and us) to the presence of other vehicles on the road, and the car negotiated the tight turns of the handling track at Bosch’s proving ground without issue.”
NASA Successfully Tests Space Station Airlocks Developed By NanoRacks.
The Houston Chronicle (7/18, Rumbaugh) reports the Houston-area NanoRacks announced Tuesday that an airlock it designed for the International Space Station was successfully tested in an astronaut training exercise using “a NASA-built, full-scale air lock mockup.” The test, which was “conducted in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6.2-million-gallon pool,” confirmed “spacewalking astronauts will be able to use handrails to maneuver around the air lock structure and mounted external payloads.”
Startup Seeks To Replace Office Jobs With Augmented Reality Holograms.
Bloomberg News (7/18, Wang) profiles Meta, a San Francisco-based startup founded in 2012 by Meron Gribetz “that makes augmented reality headsets that overlay holographic images on the real world.” Gribetz, who studied neuroscience and computer science at Columbia University, has said he is determined to use augmented reality to replace the “tyranny of the modern office” – namely, “monitors, keyboards and eventually even cubicles.” Bloomberg notes “Meta raised $50 million from investors like Lenovo Group Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.” last year, and its devices are currently being “by developers and companies – ranging from architects to designers to auto manufacturers.” The company anticipates that by the end of this year, more than 10,000 people will be using its headset.
Lockheed, Amazon Top List Of Companies With The Most STEM Job Openings.
According to Forbes (7/18, Kauflin), Lockheed Martin and Amazon are the top two companies in the nation with the most STEM job openings right now. Forbes states that it “searched Lockheed’s careers page and found 530 openings in software engineering, 423 in systems engineering and 238 in information technology, among many other vacancies.” Meanwhile, Indeed Senior Vice President of Product Raj Mukherjee said that “Amazon more than tripled the number of STEM job postings in 2017 from last year.”
Lockheed Competes With Boeing, Northrop For Next-Gen Nuclear Missile Contract.
The Denver Business Journal (7/18, Avery, Subscription Publication) reports Lockheed Martin is in competition with Boeing and Northrop Grumman the design the next-gen nuclear missile fleet. According to the story, Lockheed Martin “could add 250 engineers if it lands the missile work.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Perry Promotes Energy Exports, Awaits Electric Grid Study.
The AP (7/18, Daly) reports Energy Secretary Perry said Tuesday that the Trump Administration is pushing for increased exports of natural gas, oil, and coal as the US seeks “energy dominance” in the world market. Perry also said he is waiting to receive “a widely expected” Energy Department study into the reliability of the electric grid, a draft version of which has been leaked to the press.
NYTimes Analysis: Perry’s Clean Coal Support Contrasts With Administration Policy. In an analysis, the New York Times (7/18, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that Energy Secretary Perry’s message supporting “clean coal” contrasts with key Administration energy policies, such as his proposal to cut 54 percent of the budget of the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy, which “focuses on researching technologies to use coal, oil and natural gas more cleanly and safely.” The Times highlights several energy policy experts who say that the “carbon capture technology” being developed in the 17 research facilities operating under the Office of Fossil Energy offers the “only” way to address climate change concerns while using a majority of the US’s fossil fuel assets. The Times also says that President Trump “has shown little concern” for climate change, evidenced by his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and EPA Administrator Pruitt’s attempts to remove Obama-era climate regulations.
NYTimes Analysis: Perry’s Clean Coal Support Contrasts With Administration Policy.
In an analysis, the New York Times (7/18, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s message supporting “clean coal” contrasts with key Trump Administration energy policies, such as the proposal to cut 54 percent of the budget of the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy, which “focuses on researching technologies to use coal, oil and natural gas more cleanly and safely.” The Times highlights several energy policy experts who say that the “carbon capture technology” being developed in the 17 research facilities run by the Energy Department offers the “only” way to address climate change concerns while using a majority of the U.S.’s fossil fuel assets. The Times also says that President Trump “has shown little concern” for climate change, evidenced by his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s attempts and removing Obama-era climate regulations.
New York State Official Calls For Work-Readiness Credential As Alternative Diploma Pathway.
Chalkbeat (7/18) reports New York state Education Commissioner Maryellen Elia, at a state Board of Regents discussion about graduation requirements and diploma options on Tuesday, proposed a “local diploma” option that students can obtain with a Career Development and Occupational Studies, or CDOS, work-readiness credential. Chalkbeat explains New York’s “CDOS credential was originally crafted in 2013 as an alternative to a diploma for students with disabilities” who exhibit employment readiness “by completing hundreds of hours of vocational coursework and job-shadowing or by passing a work-readiness exam.” Last year, the rules were changed “to also allow general education students to obtain the credential, which can substitute for a fifth Regents exam for students who pass four.” While the move would “mark a huge victory for advocates who argue those exams unfairly hold students back,” it could “also raise questions about whether standards are being watered down.”
“Zero Robotics” Camps Introduce West Virginia Students To STEM Fields.
The Clarksburg (WV) Exponent-Telegram (7/18) reports Zero Robotics, which receives funding from ED and through the 21st Century Community Learning Grant, is hosting camps at four West Virginia schools this month. Cassandra Sisler, a camp coordinator, described the program as “part of a nationwide competition to write computer code to move Synchronized, Position, Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (S.P.H.E.R.E.S.) on the International Space Station.” She added that participating students “will be exploring different Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers.” Camp instructor Amanda Rehe said participating students also have access to Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who can “assist with coding help in addition to what we are teaching them.” On Monday, the Exponent-Telegram notes, “the students traveled to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Fairmont.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Legislators Introduce Bipartisan “Invent And Manufacture In America Act.”
• NYTimes A1: Up To $5 Billion In Private Student Loan Debt Uncollectable Due To Shoddy Paperwork.
• Jet Propulsion Laboratory Designing Robotic Landers.
• Researchers Expect First ITER Operation In A Decade Or So.
• Pipeline Building Boom Fuels Climate, Landowner Concerns.
• Afghan Teens Win First Round Of Robot Competition.