Leading the News
Google Begins Selling Glass Enterprise Edition With Some Early Adopters Already Using The Technology.
TechRadar (8/12) reports that following a 2015 halt in production, Google announced last month that it will sell Glass Enterprise Edition to business around the world and has now begun doing so. However, the article explains that “companies are already using an enterprise/business version of Google Glass, out of the public eye, and have been working with Google on developing for Glass since it first appeared.” TechRadar calls Glass a “somewhat empty circuit board sandwich” and says that the Skylight platform from the company Upskill “fills” it. A number of industries have adopted Glass and Skylight and GE’s aviation mechanics and engineers are highlighted as one example. Using Glass to display components directly in front of personnel working on jet engines lends an idea of how the platform is useful to another cited example of Glass users: surgeons. Glass is explained by those who use it to be useful for even the simplest reasons, such as showing surgeons a procedure from the user’s own perspective rather than mirrored. However, TechRadar says “there’s a definite sense this is just the beginning” from these “‘hidden’ Glass users” as some are quoted explaining what they hope to see from the technology in the future.
Arizona State University Unveils New Engineering Student Dormitory.
The AP (8/11) reported Arizona State University recently “unveiled a new high-tech, seven-story dormitory on its Tempe campus for engineering students.” The Fulton Schools Residential Community at Tooker House will accommodate 1,600 engineering undergraduates, and feature “two ‘makerspace’ classrooms equipped with 3D printers and laser cutters, and the Bluetooth-equipped laundry room that notifies students when cycles are done.”
University Of West Virginia Researchers Receive NSF Grant To Benefit Engineering, Computer Science Students.
The Morgantown (WV) Dominion Post (8/13) reports the National Science Foundation awarded a $2 million, five-year grant to West Virginia University researchers “to improve classroom experiences for engineering and computer science students.” WVU will allocate $750,000 to implement a new program that aims to “continue an initiative that fosters inclusion among engineers and computer scientists.” Students enrolled in four classes this fall “will benefit from this grant,” after which “unique activities will expand to all first-year engineering courses in 2018, and sophomore and junior classes in later years of the grant.”
New Mexico State University Surveying Engineering Program Receives NCEES Award.
The Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News (8/13) reports the New Mexico State University Surveying Engineering program was awarded the annual $10,000 National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying Education Award, “which recognizes surveying programs that best reflect the organization’s mission to advance licensure for surveyors in order to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the public.” NMSU’s “newly revamped engineering program” will apply the funds toward “scholarships and state-of-the art instrumentation” in its new geomatics course, to be introduced this fall. The school’s engineering technology department head, Tom Jenkins, said that the geomatics program was designed “with substantial direction and support from industry, state and national professional societies.” Pettigrew & Associates president and chief executive Debra P. Hicks, an NMSU engineering alumna and regent, commented, “We are excited NMSU has transformed the program to meet current and future demands of our industry as well as the traditional and non-traditional student.”
Professor Credits New Grant For Potential Partnership Opportunities.
The Greater Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin (8/11, Platsky) reported that Binghamton University has received a National Science Foundation grant worth $4.2 million for “community college students transferring in STEM fields.” University Distinguished Professor M. Stanley Whittingham said that the collaboration the contract will facilitate with local companies, including BAE Systems, will help “undergraduate students [to] get involved in world-leading energy research.”
Tuskegee University Materials Science Engineering Program Receives $2 Million NSF Grant.
WFXG-TV Augusta, GA (8/13) reports online that the National Science Foundation awarded Tuskegee University with a five-year, $2 million grant to “provide material science engineering courses to undergraduate students that are majoring in a different field.” Tuskegee hopes to use the funds to “prepare undergraduate students for careers in materials science engineering” and the school’s material engineering masters program. Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies Shaik Jeelani said to accomplish that goal, “we came up with this concept of a minor in material science engineering. If they can take that minor while they’re undergraduates they will not only get a certificate in minor and make themselves marketable, and their stay in the graduate program is shortened because of the minor. They don’t have to take a lot of prerequisites.” School officials hope to enroll 10 students in the program this spring.
Research and Development
Northwestern University Researchers Creating 3D Printed Ovaries.
The Washington Post (8/12, Blakemore) reports that Northwestern University researcher Teresa Woodruff is creating 3D printed ovaries that are “helping scientists better understand the female reproductive system — and that understanding has opened the door to promising new fertility treatments.” The Post reports that Woodruff has recently featured in the podcast “People Behind the Science,” which “asks scientists about their motivations, challenges and accomplishments.” Woodruff is “also trying to discover the ways that biological sex affects how medicines perform in the body, and she works to make sure more women are represented in the sciences.”
Notre Dame Researchers Using Particle Accelerator In Abandoned Mine To Study Heavy Element Formation.
An article in Wired (8/11, Scoles) explains how the mining company that owned the Homestake gold mine in Lead, South Dakota in 2006 donated the site to the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority, saying “researchers repurposed its protective layers of rock to search for things like dark matter and neutrinos.” The piece reports that University of Notre Dame scientists “went west, the disassembled pieces of a particle accelerator secured in the back of their U-haul. Over 1,000 miles later and nearly a mile down, they started installing the machine” in the mine. Notre Dame researchers will use the repurposed Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research to “mimic the fusion that goes on inside stars to learn how they make heavy elements—like the ones that people dug out of the Homestake mine, and that make up solar systems.”
Air Force Completes Testing Of Highly Efficient Diesel Engine.
UPI (8/11, Carlson) reports that the Air Force Research Laboratory has completed a ground test series on a new high-efficiency diesel aircraft engine which uses “up to 40 percent less fuel than similar engines while increasing range and flight time by up to 50 percent.” The article explains that the USAF is considering the engine, which can use diesel, Jet-A, or JP-8 fuels, for aircraft and UAV applications. UPI quotes Capt. Randall Hodkin, Aviation Working Group lead officer, who stated, “If we can reduce or eliminate the need to ship specialized fuels, we’ve then reduced the associated cost and risk.”
Houston Lags In Clean Energy Research.
The Houston Chronicle (8/12, Handy, DePillis) reports that Houston may lose its title as “energy capital of the world” as “the world shifts from fossil fuels to clean energy technologies.” That’s because there are “very few” companies working on clean energy in Houston compared to “Boston and Silicon Valley but also cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles” and even “Austin and Lubbock, where most of Texas’ clean tech startups are based.” The Chronicle adds that Chevron is supporting such research “in Boston and Silicon Valley, but not in Houston,” and “most of its clean energy research is done in California.” BP Ventures, likewise supports research in California and the United Kingdom, and its only research related firm in Houston “makes acoustic technology for drilling oil wells.” Shell’s research on clean energy “is mostly centered in San Francisco, London and Amsterdam.”
NASA Shows Off Deep-Space Simulation Habitat In New Video.
SPACE (8/13, Malik) reports a NASA video for a Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) habitat that simulates deep space missions. The team is currently in the midst of an ongoing series of exercises through September 18. In the video, NASA interns tour HERA and highlight its capabilities.
Google CEO Faces Calls To Resign Over Gender Diversity Memo.
NBC Nightly News (8/11, story 5, 2:10, Holt) reported Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s recent firing of an employee who wrote an internal memo “that questioned the abilities of women” has led to calls for his resignation. Business correspondent Jo Ling Kent said that the pressure is mounting for Pichai to step down “after canceling a company-wide meeting to address gender description late yesterday.” Employee James Damore wrote in his memo that “women are underrepresented in tech due to, quote, ‘biological differences’ and efforts to achieve more diversity are ‘bad for business.’” According to Kent, Damore has since “filed a Federal complaint and told NBC News he plans to take legal action against Google.”
Former Google Manager Says Company Had No Choice But Fire Engineer Behind Diversity Memo. The CBS Weekend News (8/12, story 5, 1:35, Ninan) reported Google found itself in “the middle of a national debate” this week after a software engineer was fired over criticizing the company’s diversity policies in a memo. Correspondent Carter Evans said, “28-year-old software engineer James Damore claims he was fired for ‘raising questions about cultural taboos’ when he argued in an internal company memo that ‘biological causes may explain why we don’t see equal representation’ in the tech industry.” Former Google manager Kim Scott said, “I don’t think Google had any choice but to fire James.”
Miller: Damore Essay Ignores Value Of Emotional Language In Computer Engineering. Claire Cain Miller writes a piece in the New York Times (8/12, Miller, Subscription Publication) “The Upshot” blog that refutes the thesis of Damore’s essay, saying that notwithstanding refutations of the “biology” in the essay, “the job requirements of today’s programmers show he was also wrong about working in tech.” Miller writes that “interpersonal skills like collaboration, communication, empathy and emotional intelligence are essential to the job. The myth that programming is done by loner men who think only rationally and communicate only with their computers harms the tech industry in ways that cut straight to the bottom line.”
AGCO Introducing Google Glass To Factories Worldwide.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (8/11, DePass) reported that Google Glass “has been reborn as an emerging ‘lean’ industrial tool inside AGCO’s custom-tractor factory in Jackson, Minn.,” and “will soon be rolled out to AGCO factories worldwide.” IHS Markit’s principal analyst of smart manufacturing division Alex West said, “Lockheed Martin introduced augmented reality solutions from Epson while manufacturing their F-35 fighter planes.” West added that Lockheed Martin provided the glasses to its engineers to help show where to fit parts.
Engineering and Public Policy
New Orleans Repairs Broken Turbine Powering Drainage System.
The Wall Street Journal (8/11, McWhirter, Subscription Publication) reports that in advance of an impending storm this weekend, the city of New Orleans repaired a broken power turbine, which powers the city’s drainage system. Rain last week caused up to nine inches of flooding and lead to the turbine’s failure. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that the city is ordering an additional 26 generators “out of an abundance of caution,” but also urged calm. He said, “Panic is not where we need to be right now.” However, Landrieu emphasized the city must do better at operating pumping stations.
NYTimes: Commuter Tax Could Help Fund New York City Transit Projects.
An editorial by the New York Times (8/11, Subscription Publication) says New York politicians should “consider reviving an old revenue source” for transit projects “that state lawmakers eliminated 18 years ago, to New York City’s enduring harm. … the commuter tax,” which the Times describes as “a modest imposition on…suburbanites who make their living in the city and may reasonably be expected to contribute a little to help keep it running.” At a time when taxing the rich is being discussed as one way to fund transit projects and other necessary public safety services, the Times says the state could instead raise close to $1 billion annually with a commuter tax at “0.45 percent of a person’s earnings.” Although the Times has little hope a commuter tax measure would pass in Albany, “especially” ahead of next year’s state elections, the editorial says reviving the tax “would correct a historical mistake.”
Engineer Argues For Detroit To Get Transportation Revitalization “Right.”
Regine Beauboeuf, the head of the architectural engineering firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber in Grand Rapids, Michigan, writes in Crain’s Detroit Business (8/13) that if the city of Detroit fails to get efforts right to revitalize its transportation infrastructure, “we will fall behind faster as rapid innovation continues to accelerate the pace of change.” Noting the city has a “hodgepodge of transportation modes,” Beauboeuf says there is “no overall mobility plan that serves the entire region.” She argues the “city has a unique opportunity to design a cohesive and tiered modal mix for the convenient and fluid movement of people, goods and vehicles, nonmotorized or motorized,” highlighting the M-1 Rail as an example of public-private collaboration spearheaded by the city.
DOE Accepting Applications For New Round Of Hydropower Plant Development Funding.
PennEnergy (8/11, Harris) reported the Department of Energy is currently accepting applications for $6.6 million in funding “for new hydroelectric power development at existing dams and conduits.” The article explained that the funding, which was “made under Section 242 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005,” aims to utilize “the U.S.’ vast hydropower potential.” DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office said in a release, “Using existing dam infrastructure can lower construction costs and reduce permitting time, meaning hydropower is added to the grid faster.”
DOE Grid Emergency Plan Still Incomplete As Tensions With Korea Intensify.
E&E Publishing’s (8/11, Cusick, Subscription Publication) Peter Behr argued the potential for “a destructive North Korean attack on U.S. power grids with cyber or nuclear weapons” would require Energy Secretary Rick Perry and his department to step into “a critical role overseeing the restoration of electricity to potentially tens of millions of people, with countless lives at stake.” However, “the playbook that Perry and the Department of Energy would follow in a presidentially declared grid emergency is incomplete,” which means industry security officials would be “uncertain of how Perry and DOE would respond.” Behr explained that the Obama Administration “proposed a FAST Act emergency plan on Dec. 7, 2016, missing the year-end deadline Congress had set for a final policy,” and highlighted officials who think the current Administration should move forward with a reassessment of the emergency plan.
Texas Considers Concerns About Grid Reliability.
In a round up of weekly energy news, Texas Monthly (8/11, Solomon) considered concerns raised by the Houston Chronicle (8/8, Handy) about the security of electrical grid reliability. According to the Chronicle, Texas “needs coal, natural gas and nuclear plants to meet electricity demand, but the problem for power companies is they only make money when their plants are running, not while waiting for the wind to stop blowing and the sun to stop shining.” Summer price spikes used to cover the costs, but “spikes happen less often” these days. Texas Monthly reported the Texas Public Utility Commission hosted a workshop last week “to consider if the state’s unregulated electricity market – the only such system in the U.S. – needs to be updated to better reflect a grid with multiple energy sources, some of which are cheap enough that power companies worry.”
According to E&E Publishing (8/11, Klump, Subscription Publication), the workshop offered the PUC “a chance to crystallize the dilemma” in the midst of “a period of uncertainty at the three-seat PUC, which has one open spot.” E&E offered a brief explanation of some proposed solutions for improving “the state’s main wholesale power market.”
New York To Consider Carbon Charge To Fossil Fuel-Generated Power.
Bloomberg News (8/11, Polson, Malik) reported New York lawmakers are “weighing more steps to cut carbon emissions by changing the way that electricity is traded,” including potentially “adding a carbon charge to the price of power generated by fossil-fuel plants” – a move Bloomberg said “could advance the state’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels, at little or no extra cost to customers, according to a study carried out by the Brattle Group.” Brattle, which was hired by the state’s grid operator to “study ways in which the state could advance its fight against global warming while preserving competitive power markets,” found that “a carbon charge would be a straightforward and economically efficient way to harmonize New York’s environmental goals and the wholesale market design,” according to the report. Bloomberg reported a $40 a ton carbon charge would have “a ‘relatively small’ impact on customer costs…amounting to a minus 1% to plus 2% change in total electric bills.” The grid operator has scheduled a conference to discuss the idea on September 6.
WV Gov. Calls For $4.5 Billion Plan To Subsidize Coal.
The Huntington (WV) Herald-Dispatch (8/12, Pace) reported West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s recent party switch “appears to have a specific reason – coal, and he needs the president’s help.” Justice claims to have “developed a plan to put tens of thousands of coal miners back to work in West Virginia and across Appalachia, while providing a critical addition to national security and the stabilization of the Eastern Seaboard’s power grid.” According to the article, Justice presented a plan to President Trump “that calls for $4.5 billion annually in federal funding to power companies that burn steam coal mined in Northern and Central Appalachia,” along with “federal funding to pay Eastern power plants $15 for each ton of thermal coal they buy from the Central or Northern Appalachian region.” Justice reportedly “claims this incentive would guarantee that Eastern coal would be available” to maintain the power grid “in the event of any type of emergency shutdown that would affect power plants utilizing natural gas or coal produced in other areas of the country.”
Amazon Donates STEM Equipment To Shakopee Junior High Schools.
Shakopee Valley (MN) News (8/11, Stanwood) reported Amazon employees surprised students at Shakopee West Junior High School and Shakopee East Junior High School on Thursday, donating $10,000 worth of STEM equipment which “will help the kids produce more with their limited time in the classrooms.” Technology and Engineering teacher TJ Hendrickson said, “If they’re doing the same kind of coding and input process, then we’re training kids to literally be able to step into Amazon, walk in off of the street and say, ‘I can do this.’” He estimated that as many 3,500 students will have the opportunity to use Amazon’s donations during the school year.
Friday’s Lead Stories
• Minor Cultural Changes Can Increase Number Of Woman Computer Science Majors.
• NSF Gives West Virginia University $2 Million To Support Diversity In STEM Programs.
• AI Robots Searching For Drugs That Could Treat ALS.
• Some Manufacturing Leaders See “Technological” Solution To Skills Gap
• Automakers Concerned Autonomous Cars May Erode Driving Skills.
• West Virginia Governor: Trump Likes Coal Subsidy Idea.
• California High School Students Working Toward CubeSat Launch.