ASEE First Bell – Breaking news in the engineering and technology field

Leading the News

University Of Maryland Engineers Answer Questions About Harvey And Flooding.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/29) reports Houston’s “hands-off approach to urban planning…may have contributed to catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey” because “virtually unchecked” growth “in flood-prone areas, has diminished the land’s already-limited natural ability to absorb water.” Yet Houston officials defend its stance, and “the record-shattering rainfall…would have wreaked havoc even if stricter building limits and better runoff systems were in place.” Gerry Galloway, professor of civil engineering at the University of Maryland, said, “The system is dependent on bayous that have been there forever and had a certain capacity.” Galloway added, “Over the years, that was probably a reasonable way to deal with this. As the city grew, and there was more development, there was less and less capacity to carry the runoff.”

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/28, Popovich, O’neill, Subscription Publication) reports on the use of “terms like ‘500-year flood’ and ‘100-year flood’” citing Sandra Knight, a senior research engineer at the University of Maryland, who said, “People think: ‘Well, it’s a one-in-100-year flood. We had one last year, so it won’t happen again.’” Knight added, “They can happen back to back.” Knight also said that such numbers are based on historical records, yet, “The world isn’t stationary anymore and the hydrology isn’t. The landscape isn’t. So why are we still presuming the future will look like the past?” CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30) features video of Knight discussing flood insurance for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

WTTG-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Washington (8/29) quotes Sandra Knight with the Center for Disaster Resilience at the University of Maryland said that in Washington, DC, “due to the District’s geographic factors, anything is possible when it comes to flooding.” Knight said, “If you think of Houston and the Galveston Bay much like D.C. and the Chesapeake Bay, we’re certainly a coastal community and so we can be influenced by hurricanes, storm surges, plus, rainfall from the Potomac River and interior flooding.”

Higher Education

Report Finds Graduates With Student Loans Are Managing Them Better.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30) reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found that “about 40 percent of college grads owe more than $20,000 in student loans, more than double the percentage who had debt in 2002,” and those owing “$50,000 or more increased from 5 per cent to 16 percent.” Yet, according to Experian, “there is a lower percentage of late payments on these loans.”

University Of Dayton Engineering Students Build Book-holding Bike For Group Fighting Literary Deserts.

WDTN-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Dayton, OH (8/29, Ross) reports in order for The Conscious Connect, a group “dedicated to bridging the literacy gap between low income students and their peers” to succeed in its “effort to eliminate book deserts,” it “collaborated with University of Dayton School of Engineering’s Innovation Center” whose students “designed and built a three wheel bike attached to a large cart” that “can hold up to 500 books in each load.” WHIO-TV Dayton, OH (8/29) also reported on the news.

Ohio Universities See More Women Among Incoming Engineering Students.

The Dayton (OH) Daily News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/28, Driscoll, Filby) reports area universities are “welcoming slightly more female engineering students this year,” as “approximately 28 percent of the University of Dayton’s incoming class of engineering students is female” and “about 22 percent of Miami University’s College of Engineering and Computing freshmen class is female,” as is “about 20 percent” of the University of Cincinnati’s incoming class, and “about 20 percent of engineering students at Wright State University are women.” The Daily News cites the American Society for Engineering Education in saying that the percentage of women among those graduating with an engineering degree has increased from 18.7 percent in 2007 to 20.9 percent in 2016. The Daily News describes several ways in which local schools are trying to recruit more women engineering students.

New Career Development Program: Streamlined Course Design
In October 2017, ASEE launches Streamlined Course Design, a new, instructor-led, interactive program, developed to streamline course design and produce effective courses. Led by Drs. Karl Smith and Ruth Streveler, this program is held over eight weeks, with four seperate 2.5-hour sessions. Register to (re)design one of your current courses with continuous input and guidance from expert facilitators and fellow participants. The ASEE members price is only $495. Learn more about the program on the ASEE website and join us for a free informational webinar about the program on September 15th at 2pm, ET.

International Activities
Learn more about the ASEE Global Colloquium in the Azores, Sept. 16-18.

See ASEE’s growing list of international partners.

Research and Development

MIT Engineers Develop Robot That Navigates Among Pedestrians.

The Boston Globe Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Thompson) reports, “MIT engineers have developed a small robotic vehicle that can seamlessly move with people in public spaces.” To do that, it makes use of “socially aware navigation” software, observing “foot traffic” and the “general codes of pedestrian conduct.” The robot is “described as a ‘knee-high kiosk on wheels.’” The engineers “trained” and tested the robot in a university building’s hallways, but “hopes to put the robot in even more crowded pedestrian environments.”

Virginia Tech Researchers Develop Way To 3D Print Polyimide.

Design Engineering (CAN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/28) reports Virginia Tech College of Engineering and College of Science researchers have “created a new way to 3D print polyimide,” by discovering how “to synthesize the macromolecules, making them stable enough to maintain their thermal properties during the 3D printing process.”

University Of Maryland Students Win NIH Prize For Work On Early Diagnosis Of Alzheimer’s Disease.

WJLA-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Washington (8/29, Carter-Conneen) reports undergraduate students from the University of Maryland “won the top prize in a National Institutes of Health competition Share to FacebookShare to Twitter focused on biomedical design.” UMD Bioengineering Department chair John Fisher said, “It’s really a new approach and a powerful approach that could lead to some real solutions in the future.” The students developed a “headset and computer software” to “identify brainwave patterns associated with Alzheimer’s disease.” They said the inexpensive screening they developed might lead to “earlier diagnoses and drug treatment.” They “built a prototype headset using 3D printed parts with a microcontroller attached to the back which connects to a blue tooth USB port feeding into a laptop.” They received $20,000 from NIH and are using it “to build more headsets.”

Smart Code Developed At University Of Michigan Can Speed Devices’ Loading Of Web Pages.

International Business Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/28, Jain) reports on “Vroom” a smart code developed at the University of Michigan that “optimizes the end-to-end interaction between smart devices and web servers.” Harsha Madhyastha, associate professor of computer science and engineering at UM, and part of the team, said, “Vroom dramatically improves upon solutions such as proxy servers, which come with security and privacy concerns. And it complements solutions such as Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project, which requires web pages to be rewritten. For any particular version of a web page, Vroom optimizes the process of loading that page,” In tests, the code “cut down average load time to half from 10 seconds to 5 seconds.”

Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/27) reports, “Even if Vroom was ready right away (it isn’t), it’d take a while to propagate,” but there is “a realistic chance of that happening” because it “has the backing of Google’s Faculty Research Award, the National Science Foundation and MIT.”

Industry News

Nike Using Static Electricity, Robots To Make Sneakers.

Fortune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30) reports that four years ago, “Nike made an investment in a startup based in Sunnyvale, California called Grabit that uses electroadhesion – the type of static electricity that makes your hair stand up when you rub it against a balloon – to help machines manipulate objects in novel ways.” Fortune adds that Nike has become one of Grabit’s initial customers, and adds that “Grabit has begun providing facilities that make Nikes with a handful of upper-assembling machines that can work at 20 times the pace of human workers.” The article also states that “by the end of the year, about a dozen of these machines will be operating in China and Mexico,” and says that the trend “could be a step forward in Nike’s attempt to change the economics of shoemaking so it can relocate manufacturing closer to the big consumer markets in the U.S. and Europe.”

GM Expanding Design Space With $1B Investment.

Automotive News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Wayland) reports that “General Motors is doubling the size of its design studios as part of a previously announced $1 billion investment and renovation of its global technical center in suburban Detroit.” The company announced on Wednesday that “it will break ground in mid-2018 on a 360,000-square-foot studio building, which will surround its historic design dome, auditorium and viewing patio,” and adds that the “new studio will connect to the company’s existing 350,000-square-foot design center.” The article quotes GM Vice President of Global Design Michael Simcoe saying, “the new space will help his team be better prepared to develop cutting-edge designs for emerging autonomous vehicles and popular services such as ride sharing and ride hailing.” Simcoe adds, “Investing in our creative and skilled team and providing them with inspiring, modern spaces, new technologies and more ways to work together will foster innovation that leads to real solutions for customers.”

Ford Exploring Self-Driving Technology For Large Commercial Vehicles.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Lienert) reports that “Ford Motor Company is considering deploying self-driving vehicle technology in larger commercial vehicles and is working with multiple partners to put its autonomous vehicles on the road.” The article quotes Ford Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification Sherif Marakby saying, “We’ve been talking with different partners in different industries about potential applications for Ford’s first self-driving vehicle in 2021, including ride-sharing and delivery services.” The article also states that “Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett, who took over in May, is leading a review of the automaker’s strategy, including its investments in electric and self-driving vehicles.” Reuters also writes that this announcement comes on the heels of new Tuesday that Ford “is teaming with Domino’s Pizza to test Michigan consumers’ reactions to having their meals delivered by self-driving vehicles.” The article also quotes Marakby saying Ford is working with “many other companies’ to develop self-driving hardware.”

Engineering and Public Policy

White House To Use Incentives To Spur Private Investment In Infrastructure Projects.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Shepardson) reports that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney “told about 150 transportation officials at the White House the administration wants the private sector to play a bigger role in managing and financing public infrastructure.” Mulvaney said the Administration will use incentives as part of its infrastructure plan to encourage private investment. According to Chao, the plan is not yet finalized but she “said states and cities that secure some private-sector financing ‘will be given higher-priority access to new federal funds.’”

President Trump’s infrastructure plan will be broken into three pieces, “with the largest chunk of funding dedicated to projects that already have some private or local money secured, the administration told state and local officials on Wednesday,” The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Zanona) reports. Speaking to roughly 150 transportation officials at the White House, Chao said, “This administration wants to be your partner in repairing and revitalizing our country’s critical infrastructure. … The goal is to create a framework for infrastructure renewal that is more flexible and adaptable to the unique needs of your communities.”

Texas High-Speed Rail Demonstrates Private Sector Role In Infrastructure Development.

In a column for The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30), Texas Central Partners Managing Director Holly Reed writes that “the Texas Bullet Train announced an agreement with Fluor Enterprises and Lane Construction to conduct extensive planning and design work along the 240-mile passenger line between North Texas and Houston and be the preferred design build companies post financial close.” Reed, whose firm is “a private high-speed rail company,” says that “as an investor-led transportation project, the ripple effects of this railroad’s development will be felt across the country as markets begin considering alternative models for infrastructure improvements.” She adds that the new high-speed rail line “will connect the growing populations of North Texas and Houston – the country’s 4th and 6th largest metro areas, respectively – with a 90-minute trip.” In addition, “The project is expected to pump more than $36 billion into the state and local economy over the next 25 years through direct spending, increased employment and new economic activity.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Maine High School And Regional Career And Technical Center To Cost Nearly $75 Million.

The Brunswick (ME) Times Record Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Strout) reports on the new Morse High School and Bath Regional Career and Technical Center with a budget of “more than $74.6 million, most of which will be paid for by the state” though $7.9 million will be paid for up front by the Arrowsic, Bath, Phippsburg, and Woolwich — the four communities involved. The towns will pay that amount because they decided to have more space and higher grade materials than state funds would cover in some areas. That will include, “extra seating and a balcony for the theater, a larger IT area to service the whole district, a larger dining commons and a concessions/ ticket room.” The plans call for “geothermal cooling and heating…with the expectation that it will lower energy costs over time” but may be dropped if it “proves undesirable or too expensive when it is put out for bids.”

North Carolina School District Develops Three Middle School STEAM Academies.

The Hickory (NC) Daily Record Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Bailey) reports that Catawba County Schools is continuing its development of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math (STEAM) academies at three existing middle schools. The Daily Record explains, “STEAM is focused on project-based learning with the addition of arts education.” Paraphrasing, The Daily Record adds, “STEAM ties all the subjects to each other in an interdisciplinary way” so that students can adapt “to the rapidly changing global world we live in.” The school district is hiring fourteen of its teachers in November to teach the STEAM curriculum before launching the academies next school year. 450 fifth-grade students will be admitted to the STEAM academies by lottery or application, pending a decision by the school board.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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