Leading the News
California Boosts Technical Education.
PBS NewsHour (8/29, Krupnick) reports that after years of promoting college for high school graduates, California is now “spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it.” The focus on college “left vocational programs with an image problem, and the nation’s factories with far fewer skilled workers than needed.” PBS adds in the US there are “30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree,” and “people with career and technical educations are actually slightly more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials,” according to ED. One problem with expanding technical education is the cost. According to the report, academic classes such as English can cost “just $52 per student credit,” compared to several times that for courses that require technical equipment.
STEM Fields Offer Students Top Salaries.
Money (8/30, Bahler) reports that according to PayScale, majors in Petroleum engineering can expect to have “the fattest paychecks” with “a starting salary of $94,600 and a mid-career salary of about $175,000,” which is “a heck of a lot more than any other major.” PayScale also found that “students who choose STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculums are poised to out-earn their peers” making up all of the top 20 majors in earnings.
Research Examines How Women Are Driven From STEM Fields.
Salon (8/30, Marcotte) reports reports on efforts to increase the number women entering STEM careers, saying that most seem to assume “women themselves are the problem,” but according to researchers at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, “women are already working hard to get careers in STEM — and that it takes a surprising amount of pressure to keep them out.” The researchers found that women were deterred from entering STEM fields “by discovering that most of their classmates or faculty members were men”; “by stereotypes that paint STEM fields as masculine endeavors”; and by low grades, but only if “all three” of these were present. Lead author Adriana Kugler summed up the findings, “You need triple signals. You need to be told in various ways you don’t belong here.” She said that only “in a major such as math or engineering, which are commonly understood as ‘masculine,’” are women affected by being “outnumbered” and only when they also get lower grades do they “cave into the social stereotypes that women just aren’t good at certain careers.”
Report: Student Loan Balances Reach Record High.
CNBC (8/29, Dickler) reports online that a recent Experian report found student loan balances “jumped more than $833 billion” over the last decade “to reach an all-time high of $1.4 trillion,” with the average borrower’s outstanding balance at $34,144 – 62 percent more than the average 10 years ago. Experian vice president of analytics Michele Raneri commented, “Student loan balances are on the rise, which is a result of the increasing cost of higher education.” She said she expects those balances to continue rising. Meanwhile, Raneri said, delinquencies have dropped three percent over the last decade, suggesting “that consumers are managing their student loan payments better than they have in the past.” A separate Citizens Bank survey found 57 percent of graduates expressed buyer’s remorse over the number of loans they took, “and 36 percent said they would not have gone to college if they fully understood the associated costs.”
Shortage Of Skilled Workers Threatens Infrastructure Push.
Bloomberg News (8/29, Niquette) reports that “President Donald Trump’s plan to boost the economy with millions of jobs rebuilding roads, bridges and ports has a snag, the construction industry says: There aren’t nearly enough skilled workers to fill them.” Bloomberg adds that several major construction firms “say the industry is hard-pressed to find enough people for current openings, let alone with the expansion Trump envisions with an additional $1 trillion in spending over the next decade.” The article cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data saying that “with the U.S. economy at close to full employment, economists say there aren’t millions of unemployed people looking for construction jobs – there were about 225,000 unfilled posts in June.” In addition, “about 3 million of the current 14.5 million construction workers will retire or leave the industry over the next decade and need to be replaced.”
Domino’s, Ford To Test Pizza Deliveries In Michigan Using Self-Driving Vehicles.
Reuters (8/29, Lienert) reports Domino’s Pizza and Ford Motor Co. are teaming up to deliver pizzas in September “to randomly selected customers in the Ann Arbor area in a Ford Fusion Hybrid equipped with self-driving technology.” The experiment is intended to “[test] Michigan consumers’ reactions to having their pies delivered by self-driving vehicles, the companies said on Tuesday.” According to Reuters, Domino’s previously tested “advanced delivery technology” in Australia, where it experimented with “delivery to customers in New Zealand via drone and self-driving robot.” Domino’s spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre said, “We’re still focused on the last 50 feet. … That’s a big challenge – getting (the pizza) from the curb to the door.”
Renault-Nissan To Partner With China’s Dongfeng Motor Corporation On Electric Cars.
The AP (8/29) reports that “automakers Renault and Nissan say they will develop electric cars with a Chinese state-owned partner, adding to a series of tie-ups between global auto brands and local partners in the biggest electric vehicle market.” The article adds that “Dongfeng Motor Corp. aims to develop a vehicle based on an SUV platform shared by Renault and Nissan, the companies announced Tuesday,” with production set to begin in 2019. The AP also writes that “global automakers are investing heavily to develop electric vehicles for China, responding to rising demand and government pressure on the industry to speed up technology development.”
New UBuffalo-Based Partnership To Examine Sustainable Manufacturing.
The University at Buffalo (NY) Reporter (8/29, Welch) writes that the University of Buffalo’s Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI) is partnering with Collaboratory for a Regenerative Economy (CORE), under funding from The JPB Foundation, to examine how the region might establish “a thriving community built around manufacturing jobs where the production methods and processes not only minimize waste and mitigate negative environmental impacts, but also address health risks posed to residents and workers.” The article states that “CoRE will bring together scientists, manufacturers, community partners and other key stakeholders to understand the challenges in building a self-sustaining economy in rapidly expanding and evolving industries.” The article quotes the university’s Erich Block Endowed Chair of MDI, Krishna Rajan, saying, “This is an unusual project — with its emphasis on the interplay between science, technology, and their interaction with human behavior to impact social change. Our project seeks to lower the barriers to the adoption of production processes that are environmentally friendly and offer the potential to improve community health.” Rajan adds, “We will use cutting-edge discoveries in materials science and engineering to develop innovative and transformative approaches to design data-driven, green-manufacturing processes that will reduce the use of toxic chemicals and/or those derived from fossil fuels in the solar panel manufacturing industry.”
GE Digital Software Aims At “Paperless Manufacturing.”
Enterprise IoT Insights (8/29, Kinney) reports that “GE Digital is focused on leveraging the industrial internet of things to drive digital transformation in various industrial sectors including manufacturing.” GE Digital’s latest manufacturing execution systems (MES) software, which covers everything from pairing certified workers with particular pieces of equipment to generating detailed work instructions, makes possible what the company calls ‘paperless manufacturing.’” The article quotes GE Digital VP Matthew Wells saying the software aims to provide manufacturers with “reduced labor and materials cost,” and to realize improved contribution margins and on-time delivery.” Wells adds that these factors “allow all manufacturers to stay competitive today and ensure success tomorrow.”
BAE Systems Creates New 3D Technology For Naval Ship Design.
ExecutiveBiz (8/29, Martin) reports BAE Systems has created new 3D technology which “employs gaming and computer-aided design software designed to aid naval ship designers and engineers.” The technology will be featured “along with a digital periscope on Australia’s Collins-class submarines” as well as BAE Systems’ entrant for the Australian LAND 400 program, the AMV35 combat reconnaissance vehicle.
Engineering and Public Policy
Cruz Promotes Trade, Manufacturing In Plastic Molding Technology Visit.
Plastics News (8/25, Loepp) reported that “Plastic Molding Technology Inc. highlighted issues of importance to the plastics industry during an Aug. 24 visit from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).” The article stated that PMT CEO Chuck Sholtis “kicked off the visit by talking about two issues of critical importance to manufacturers: trade and tax reform.” Sholtis said, “Texas is ranked first in the nation for plastics industry employment, and first in the nation for plastics industry shipments. To keep manufacturing thriving, we need to modernize NAFTA while keeping it effective for export-focused businesses like PMT.” Plastic News wrote that “Sholtis called for a ‘do no harm’ approach to NAFTA, expressing the importance of trade to companies in the El Paso area,” and pointed out that “PMT serves a wide array of industries including automotive, appliances, electrical and consumer products.”
Lego Robotics Team Started Woman On Path To Become A Software Engineer.
The Chattanoogan (TN) (8/29) reports on Laura Ayres, who joined a LEGO League robotics team at age 11, and is now “a software engineer at Unum.” She said, “Building robots and participating in competitions sparked a practical interest in technology.” She added, “If I could program a robot, I figured I could program other things.” She studied “computer information systems at Shorter University in Rome, Ga.” and interned at the Department of Homeland Security in New London, Connecticut. She has been working at Unum since graduation. She commented, “If it weren’t for robotics and the confidence it gave me to pursue a technical degree, I’m not at all sure I would have had any of those opportunities.”
Idaho School’s Lego Robotics Team Learns This Year’s Theme Is Hydro Dynamics.
KMVT-TV Twin Falls, ID (8/29, Duke) reports Harrison Elementary in Twin Falls, Idaho is using at least some of its 21st Century Grant to support the Lego robotics club in which “9-15 year old students form teams of 4-10 members who build an autonomous robot to complete missions.” This year’s theme is hydro dynamics. And “while the main focus is programming the robots, teams also have a core values project, where they take the theme and apply it to a community project which they present to the judges.”
Nebraska Teacher Completes Alaska-Based AgriScience Professional Development Program.
KOLN-TV Lincoln, NE (8/29) reports online that Kearney High School teacher Macie Wippel, with the help of a Nebraska FFA Foundation scholarship funded by DuPont Pioneer and the Nebraska Soybean Board, recently completed the Curriculum for AgriScience Education, or CASE, program in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Nebraska FFA Foundation’s Stacie Agnew explained that CASE is an 80-hour “professional development experience” for agriculture teachers. She added that her organization is “committed to fund 20 agriculture education teachers. The funding allows them to attend a CASE training of their choice.” Wippel and other teachers in the state who participated in the program “will now use what they learned during CASE to educate students in Nebraska.” Wippel, for example, selected the Natural Resources and Ecology curriculum, which “covers all areas of natural resources while giving students a fun and hands-on experience.” Wippel will use her training to teach “students about the process, benefits and challenges related to the use of soybeans in agriculture.”
Ohio District To Expand STEM Curriculum With $5,000 Grant.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/29) reports Clinical Research Management and Ohio’s Medina County Public Schools district awarded a $5,000 competitive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, grant to Crestview Elementary School parent and district innovation consultant Bonnie Romano last month. The grant was created to generate “interest in careers with the STEM fields among K-8 students; increase awareness of STEM fields in Medina County; and increase use of community resources in K-8 STEM school curriculum delivery.” With the grant, Crestview and Willet’s Middle School can introduce a STEAM curriculum – STEM with an art component. The Ohio district will also expand Crestview’s Coding and Technology Club to all district elementary and middle schools, and launch a Lego Robotics club at Willet’s.
Entrepreneur Stresses Need To Inspire Oklahoma Students To Pursue STEM.
In a piece for the Oklahoman (8/29), Scott Meacham, the president and chief executive of the nonprofit i2E Inc., stresses the necessity of finding ways to increase Oklahoma students’ “interest and exposure” to science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields so that they will be prepared for “the innovation economy and beyond.” Meacham profiles NextThought co-founder and chief executive Ken Parker, who “mentors entrepreneurs and startups and serves on the board of TeleVet.” When Parker moved to the state in the mid-1970s, his school received a computer through a Title IX grant. A teacher spent time and effort to ensure Parker had access to that computer – something Parker credits as his “formative experience.” Meacham concludes, “I don’t expect an end to the struggle to gain enough STEM focus and resources for students in Oklahoma’s schools,” but that does not “mean there aren’t ways for each of us to focus and inspire.”
Columnist Profiles Renovated Career And Technical Education Center In Detroit.
Detroit News (8/29) columnist Ingrid Jacques profiles Detroit’s Randolph Career Technical Education Center, which “will open next Tuesday after an extensive $10 million renovation – the culmination of a years-long collaboration between the Detroit Public Schools Community District, Mayor Mike Duggan, business leaders, unions and other stakeholders.” Over the next three years, Randolph is expected to prepare 900 students and 900 adults “for jobs in the construction trades,” a move Jacques says is “exactly what the city needs to put Detroiters to work in the jobs being created by downtown’s revival.” Prior to its revitalization, the center housed 700 students and “had fallen into disrepair as the district faced enrollment losses and other financial setbacks.” Last year, for example, only “about 90 students spent time at the school.” This fall, 300 students are expected to enroll during the day. Said DPSCD superintendent Nikolai Vitti, “We are giving our students multiple pathways to reach their potential.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Rankin Technical College Gets $2.35M Federal Grant For Manufacturing Incubator.
• Technical University Of Munich Team Wins Hyperloop Competition.
• Oracle To Hire 5,000 For Cloud Business.
• ChargePoint Plans IPO, Expansion As Electric Car Boom Continues.
• Policy Document Reaffirms DOT Commitment To Autonomous Technologies.
• States Face Increased Teacher Shortages.