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

Leading the News

Some Arizona Schools Use Students Smart Devices In Class.

The Arizona Daily Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Adams-Ockrassa) reports on local schools that are using “classroom distractions like smartphones and tablets” as “new learning tools” including Coconino High School, where Principal Stacie Zanzucchi said the devices students own help supplement the tablets the school has. While elementary schools in the district generally do not allow students to have smartphones in class, some high schools “try to use technology to teach students at their level and in their style of communication” according to Zanzucchi. Students can download apps so their devices can be used “to answer quiz or trivia questions on the classroom smart board.” Teachers also provide instruction about the appropriate times and places to use the devices.

Higher Education

NSF Awards Grant To Professors To Help Digital Devices Purge Fake News.

The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports the National Science Foundation has awarded $300,000 to two professors at Penn State “to develop technology that will enable digital devices to weed out fake news.” They say they will identify “characteristic indicators of fake news” and use “complex formulas that will enable digital devices to recognize those indicators.”

NSF Supports Program To Recruit Underrepresented Groups Into STEM Fields.

The Amherst (MA) Bulletin Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Christensen) reports University of Massachusetts Amherst professors Elizabeth McEneaney and Peg Riley won a $987,000 grant from the National Science Foundation “to continue their work attracting underrepresented groups into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” Their effort, “the STEM Ambassadors Program, started in 2014 with an $825,000 grant from the UMass president’s office.” The program admits “as many as 40 students who apply each fall, and in their first year they learn skills like how to read peer-reviewed articles and literature reviews.” After that, “they are paired with faculty and graduate students to get lab experience.”

Clarion University Physics Professor Wins NSF Grant For Attachment To Electron Microscope.

The Oil City (PA) News-Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports Clarion University physics professor Chunfei Li has won a $151,940 grant from the National Science Foundation “to purchase an electron back scattering diffraction,” to attach to the university’s scanning electron microscope. The attachment will allow “researchers to gather information regarding crystallography…down to 100 nanometers.”

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.


Right Work Environment An Asset To STEM Organizations.

Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Council) reports that “the work environment can be an asset, as opposed to a liability, for STEM organizations.” In examining factors that improve retention and productivity at companies in STEM fields, Forbes writes, “when STEM organizations establish a motivating work environment, people want to stay and the organizations prosper,” because they “know what is expected of them, they have authority delegated to them and they are rewarded for performance.” The article argues that “STEM skills are valuable, but the skills alone do not ensure that people who possess them will thrive and stay at the organizations that pay them,” and asserts that “motivating work environments are the difference.”

Solar Installation Summer Program Aims To Bridge Skills Gap In Washington, DC.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Watkins, Prasad) reports on the first cohort of Solar Works DC, a partnership between Washington, D.C. and the nonprofit GRID Alternatives that trains workers from low-income communities for solar jobs. In the article, summer cohort member Devonta Sanders says that after six weeks of on-the-job training, he now feels comfortable installing solar panels from start to finish and wants to “spin that training into a full-time career.” Tommy Wells, director of Washington’s Department of Energy & Environment, says that exactly the kind of pathway to career employment Solar Works aims to carve for local residents.

Industry News

DuPont Finalizes Merger With Dow.

Philly (PA) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, DiStefano) reports that “Wilmington-based DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich. – rival developers of plastics, pesticides, explosives, and other useful and dangerous-to-make materials – combine Thursday into one big global corporation, DowDuPont.” The article describes the merger as “a temporary marriage of convenience, with a goal of tax and cost savings, faster product development and sales, higher profits and shareholder payouts – and then a planned breakup, into at least three independent companies, over the next 18 months.” Philly writes that “Dow contributes two-thirds of the combined $77 billion in yearly sales, and more than half of the 100,000 employees and $150 billion in market value, but the companies call this a ‘merger of equals,’ with eight directors from each side on the combined board,” a process that “allows the bosses to do their spin-offs without paying income tax on sales proceeds – ‘very, very tax-efficient and one of the reasons we are doing it this way,’ as DuPont chief executive Edward Breen told shareholders when he announced the deal in December 2015.”

Vestil Manufacturing Plans $15 Million Expansion Of Indiana Plant.

Area Development Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports Vestil Manufacturing plans to invest $15 million in an expansion of its plant Angola, Indiana. The company will also “construct a new 250,000-square-foot fulfillment center” as part of the expansion. Vestil “manufactures ergonomic products, loading dock equipment, material handling equipment, drum handling equipment and packaging equipment,” and with the expansion it “plans to create up to 100 jobs by 2021.” The article also states that “the new fulfillment center will allow Vestil Manufacturing to service its customers more quickly and efficiently inventory to manage quick-ship products for some of the company’s biggest customers.” Vestil President Barry Trine is quoted saying, “Vestil credits Indiana’s centralized location and Angola’s proximity to major roadways as a major factor in its decision to stay and grow in Indiana. The strong work ethic and diversified work skills of Hoosiers was another determining factor.”

Pennsylvania Manufacturer Invests In Upgrades Of Plant Technology.

WTAJ-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Johnstown, PA (8/31, Valentine) reports that Ledvance, a manufacturer based in Elk County, Pennsylvania, “has invested millions into the new robotics and technology to shift to LED products.” The article adds that in order to keep up with production, the company has “added about 20 jobs.” The article quotes Ledvance CEO Jes Hansen saying, “We have the privilege of actually hiring and employed sometimes third generations of employees. We’ve been here for 110 years. We understand the importance we have here in the community as a local employer and we’re very proud of that.”

Engineering and Public Policy

House To Vote On Autonomous Vehicle Bill Next Week.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Shepardson) reports that “the House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles, congressional aides said.” The article adds that the legislation, “which was passed unanimously by a House panel in July, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years.” Reuters points out that “automakers and technology companies including General Motors Co and Alphabet Inc’s’ self-driving unit Waymo have been pushing for new federal rules making it easier to deploy self-driving technology, while some consumer groups have sought additional safeguards.” The article quotes House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying, “Self-driving vehicles stand to make our transportation system safer and more efficient. Advancing this technology to road-ready requires government policy that encourages continued testing and development.” McCarthy adds, “This formula is the foundation for what makes America the most innovative country in the world.”

California May Create Electricity Without Fossil Fuels By 2045.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Megerian) reports that “California lawmakers are considering” Senate Bill 100, which would create “a future without the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity” in a move “that would boost the renewable energy industry and expand the scope of the state’s battle against global warming.” The bill, if approved by the Assembly and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, would hasten the statewide adoption of renewable energy, plus require all fossil fuels to be phased out by 2045. The article adds, “Compared with the political firestorm over extending the state’s cap-and-trade program earlier this year, the electricity proposal has flown under the radar.”

Senator Stabenow Touts Need For Skilled Workers.

MLive (MI) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30) reports that US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) “held a discussion Wednesday, Aug. 30, with West Michigan business, education, and labor leaders about how to better meet the ongoing challenge employers have finding enough skilled workers to fill positions.” The event was held at the Kent Career Technical Center. It quotes Stabenow touting the need to encourage youth to pursue careers in skilled trades. “When we talk about going forward and getting skills, it is not all about four-year colleges,” Stabenow said. She added, “There are a variety of careers and jobs beyond high school that involve skills but don’t necessarily mean going to a four-year college. Not every young person is interested in getting a four-year college degree. It’s important that they know there are great jobs in professional skilled trades and technical careers.” MLive emphasizes that after many visits to small businesses around the state, “Stabenow said she’s found that the number one issue of every small business having the skilled workers that they need.” CEO Jon DeWys saying that “it is important to start exposing young people to experiences in manufacturing and skilled trades early to bring relevancy.”

Senator Baldwin Visits Wisconsin Manufacturer, Introduces Bill To Encourage Manufacturing R&D.

Wisconsin Public Radio Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Kaeding) reports that in a visit to Wisconsin manufacturer FeraDyne Outdoors on Tuesday, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) spoke about “a bill she introduced earlier this month that would allow more investment in research and development for small and medium-sized businesses.” The article described the 21st Century Manufacturing Act, introduced this month, which simplifies the process for businesses to apply for R&D tax credits and “increases a research and development tax credit.” The article adds that “Baldwin said the bill would also encourage manufacturers to invest in new technology.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Most Wyoming Schools Met State’s Expectations.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports Wyoming has released “school performance ratings” indicating “most Wyoming schools are meeting or exceeding expectations.” State schools Superintendent Jillian Balow “says across all grades and indicators, more schools are meeting expectations…although fewer high schools are exceeding expectations.”

Utah Kindergarten Holds College-Ready Day.

The Deseret (UT) News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Cortez) reports on the Kindergarten College-Ready Day Thursday at Midvalley Elementary School, where “kindergarten classes in Canyons School District end their first week of school by taking time out to talk about the journey through high school, college and beyond.” One teacher said that it is a good time to teach the students, “If they succeed now, they’ll keep succeeding.” The students dress up for the careers they want and talk about why, and the teachers spoke about the colleges they went to and how that helped them become teachers.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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