Leading the News
Cruise Automation Unveils “Mass Producible” Autonomous Cars.
AFP (9/11) reports Kyle Vogt, the head of the General Motors unit Cruise Automation, “said Monday it has begun rolling out the first ‘mass producible’ self-driving cars that could be available once regulations allow.” In a blog post, Vogt stated, “This isn’t just a concept design – it has airbags, crumple zones, and comfortable seats.” He added the vehicles are being built ‘in a high-volume assembly plant” capable of producing hundreds of thousands of vehicles per year.’”
Forbes (9/11, Abuelsamid) contributor Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst with Navigant Research, similarly says Vogt “revealed that just three months after unveiling the second-generation Chevrolet Bolt EV autonomous prototype, GM’s Orion, Mich. assembly plant is building 50 third-generation examples.” According to Abuelsamid, “compared to the batch of test cars built last spring, these look much cleaner, with the sensors that previously hung off the front fenders now seemingly integrated into the mirror housings and the extended front fascia trimmed back.” Abuelsamid added, “The real difference with this new batch of prototypes lies under the sheetmetal where there is now actually more hardware than before.”
Senate Appropriations Bill Includes Pell Grant Reset For Defrauded Students.
Inside Higher Ed (9/11) reports that a package of appropriations bills passed by a Senate panel last week “would restore Pell Grant eligibility for defrauded borrowers, among other boosts to financial aid and college-readiness programs.” The measure “boosted the maximum value of the Pell Grant to $6,020” and “restores Pell eligibility to student borrowers who were defrauded or misled by their institution and were approved to have their student loans cleared through a borrower-defense claim.”
Napolitano Encourages Other Schools To Join DACA Lawsuit.
Diverse Education (9/11) reports that University of California Chancellor Janet Napolitano, who was involved in creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as Secretary of Homeland Security, is now suing the administration over its decision to repeal the program. In comments to the press on Friday, she said, “We would welcome the participation of other universities and colleges around the country, absolutely.” The University of California lawsuit seeks “to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA announced earlier in the week.”
Rutgers Program Gives Immigrant Students Legal Help.
Diverse Education (9/11) reports on a new program at Rutgers University Law School that gives “free legal counseling to currently enrolled students…who may be facing immigration-related barriers to their success.” The Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Program is being launched “at a time when many students across the country are in danger of deportation after President Donald Trump announced last week that he would be repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.” The program “was not created in response to DACA, but with the current events and political climate, the program has been focusing heavily on addressing students’ concerns and questions about DACA, says attorney Jason Hernandez, leader of RICAP.”
Research and Development
Researchers Call For 3D Printer Emissions Standard.
TechRepublic (9/11, Kassner) contributor Michael Kassner says the rise of 3D printing has the “potential for health risks,” according to a number of studies, “but there are no set standards or specific regulations as to what is good enough.” He adds that researchers at Seoul National University and at the Underwriters Laboratories “believe there is a strong need for particle emissions standards, and now is better than later, as 3D printers are popping up everywhere, even schools.” UL’s engineers and scientists are now “developing American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for measuring and assessing printer emissions in enclosed spaces.”
Akron, Ohio Building Groundwork For Smart Roads That Talk To Cars.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (9/11, Conn) reports that the city of Akron, Ohio “is laying the groundwork for smart technology that will transmit Wi-Fi and allow vehicles to communicate with the road.” The city’s roadway improvements “will incorporate underground conduits and fiber optic cables to support a future smart roads system and transmit Wi-Fi via street lights and other pedestals along the roadway.” Akron City Engineer Jim Hewitt said the city is partnering with the Federal Highway Administration, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Public Works Commission, and the Akron Metropolitan Transportation Study on the project. Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor said that with the smart road technology, “We anticipate that accidents will be lessened and will potentially stop in the future.”
The Astonishing Engineering Behind America’s Latest, Greatest Supercomputer.
Wired (9/11, Simon) reports on the engineering behind Summit, a super computer which is nearing completion at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The article reports that, once complete, Summit will “be the United States’ most powerful supercomputer and perhaps the most powerful in the world.” The article discusses the challenges of cooling such a powerful machine, mentioning that, “Luckily, Oak Ridge is hooked up to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which in Tennessee alone has a generating capacity of nearly 20,000 megawatts from 19 hydroelectric dams, two nuclear power plants, and too many other sources to get into here.”
US Coast Guard Interested In Long-Range UAV.
FlightGlobal (9/11, Giangreco) reports that the US Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center has expressed interest in acquiring a land-based UAV with a minimum flight time of 24 hours and “long range” capability, according to a request for information issued on Aug. 30. The UAV would perform a role similar to that of “Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton for the US Navy and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc Guardian, which is a maritime patrol version of the Predator B.” The aircraft would patrol along pre-planned offshore routes, and would need the capability to create organic sensors “for surveillance to detect and prosecute surface targets, according to the RFI.”
Successful Test Puts Sierra Nevada Closer To Orbital Flights.
SPACE (9/11, Messier) reports that Sierra Nevada successfully tested the landing gear and electronics systems for its Dream Chaser spacecraft in a captive-carry test over Rogers Dry Lake bed in California last week. According to Sierra Nevada Vice President of Space Exploration Systems Steve Lindsey, engineers will need to review that all “avionics worked exactly as expected,” and that “reams and reams of data” from the test would need to be reviewed. If all goes well, the company will carry-out a second captive-carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center around the end of September, with an approach-and-landing test to follow later in the fall. The approach-and-landing test is a “funded milestone under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) contract that Sierra Nevada has with NASA,” and will earn Sierra Nevada $8 million if completed. However, while Sierra Nevada plans to continue working with NASA to qualify Dream Chaser for manned spaceflight, NASA will not pay Sierra Nevada for further work, as the commercial crew contract originally sought by Sierra Nevada was awarded to Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 following a failed captive-carry test by Dream Chaser. Lindsey said the spacecraft “was rated for people from the very beginning, and so we want to keep that as an option. … Our intent, someday, is to go back to crew as well.”
MLB Invites Child With Prosthetic Arm To Throw First Pitch At Every Park.
TODAY (9/11) profiles Hailey Dawson, a seven-year-old second grade student with “a 3D-printed hand created by the engineering department at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, due to a rare congenital disorder that left her without three fingers since birth.” This week, she “got a little closer to realizing her dream of throwing the first pitch at every Major League Baseball park.” Yong Dawson, the girl’s mother, “contacted the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to see if someone could help engineer her daughter a hand after reading an article about a robotic alternative to prosthetics.”
University Of Colorado Engineers Create Technology Enabling Single Pilot To Control Multiple Drones.
The Denver Post (9/11) reports University of Colorado engineers collaborated with the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to develop advanced drone “swarming” technology to allow “a single operator to control multiple unmanned aircraft simultaneously, which would allow a single operator to cover more ground while monitoring hiking areas or natural preserves marked by vast, rugged landscapes.” The team tested the technology over three weeks in August at the Pawnee National Grassland. The Federal Aviation Administration granted the project “first-ever approval” to permit “multiple aircraft to be manned by a single pilot.”
Amazon Uses Robots To Create New Roles For Workers, Improve Efficiency.
The New York Times (9/10, Wingfield, Subscription Publication) reports that “no company embodies the anxieties and hopes around automation better than Amazon.” The article notes that many, including President Donald Trump, “blame the company for destroying traditional retail jobs by enticing people to shop online.” However, the article points out that “the company’s eye-popping growth has turned it into a hiring machine.” At the same time, the article notes that Amazon is “on the forefront of automation, finding new ways of getting robots to do the work once handled by employees.” According to the article, robots at Amazon’s warehouses make work “less tedious and physically taxing,” while also improving the company’s efficiency. When introducing robots at its warehouses, the article adds that Amazon does not lay off any workers. Instead, employees take courses on how to become robot operators or are moved to receiving stations.
Amazon Seeks Hundreds Of New Employees In China, Looking To Intensify Battle With Alibaba.
Bloomberg News (9/11, Ramli, Gao) reports Amazon is hiring hundreds of new employees in China “to fill jobs ranging from Internet software engineers to designers for Alexa, positioning the company to recoup some of the market share it lost to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in the world’s largest online shopping arena.” Bloomberg adds that a lot of the job openings were for “Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing and hosting business in which it’s the global leader against the likes of Google, Microsoft Corp. and Alibaba.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Solar Power Installations Continue To Grow.
The Hill (9/11, Cama) reports the “rate of solar power capacity increase” rose “8 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to the previous year, making it the highest second quarter on record.” The Solar Energy Industries Association said yesterday that “companies installed 2,387 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic panels, with the largest portion — 58 percent — coming in utility-scale solar.” In a statement SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper said, “This report shows once again that solar is on the rise and will continue to add to its share of electricity generation. … Last year, solar companies added jobs 17 times faster than the rest of the economy and increased our GDP by billions of dollars. We are going to continue to fight for policies that allow the industry to continue this phenomenal growth.”
Reuters (9/11, Groom) reports the “growth” this quarter “is expected to be short lived, as the market is forecast to decline 17 percent for the year, reflecting weaker residential demand and lower utility procurement compared with 2016, when a federal tax credit had been slated to expire.” Utility companies “are in the process of rebuilding their pipelines following the extension of that credit, and market growth is expected to resume in 2019.” The Houston Business Journal (9/11, Subscription Publication) also provides coverage of this story.
Minnesota Commerce Department Recommends That Enbridge Shuts Down Line 3.
The AP (9/11, Karnowski) reports that Enbridge Energy did not establish a need “to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota,” and instead, the Minnesota Department of Commerce said Monday it may be preferable to shut the line down. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Energy Regulation and Planning Unit manager Kate O’Connell said in a filing, “In light of the serious risks of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.” House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R) said the filing is “yet another example of (Democrats) siding with extreme environmental activists while putting Minnesotans’ jobs and safety at risk.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (9/11, Hughlett) reports that Enbridge said, “The Department of Commerce opinion is only one view, which we and other energy consumers will respond in detail through this process.” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) said that the “document will arouse considerable controversy” and that “discord should be recognized as part of the wisdom of the process.”
The Hill (9/11, Henry) reports that this weekend, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said, “The way we look at it is that if you oppose this project, you are opposing the enhancement of critical, safety-related infrastructure.” Monaco also said, “We are renewing this line with the most advanced technology in the business.”
Report: More Than 1,200 Companies Moving To Adopt Price On Carbon Emissions.
The Washington Post (9/12, Yeo) reports the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions published the first major study of corporate carbon pricing since President Trump’s election and found that more than 1,200 global businesses, including Shell, are moving to adopt a carbon price. Despite Trump’s claims that addressing climate change will hamper the economy, chief executives have been self-imposing a price on carbon dioxide emissions. Shell uses a $40 per metric ton cost to all emissions resulting from its investment, while BP applies a $40 per metric ton price to new large projects in industrialized economies.
Regulators Consider Permanent Delaware River Watershed Drilling Ban.
E&E Publishing (9/11, Subscription Publication) reports that “gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing could be” banned “permanently…in the Delaware River watershed, as regulators in the region prepare to vote as early as this week on whether to lock in a temporary moratorium on drilling.” A ban would affect two Pennsylvania counties within the Marcellus Shale region. Industry groups have encouraged the Delaware River Basin Commission not to impose the ban citing Susquehanna River Basin Commission studies that determined drilling would not negatively affect the watershed. The AP (9/11, Rubinkam) reports that the Delaware River Basin Commission is set to vote on a resolution, which could permanently ban drilling. The resolution says that fracking “presents risks, vulnerabilities and impacts to surface and ground water resources across the country.” Philly (PA) (9/11, Rubinkam) provides additional coverage.
NPR (9/11, Hurdle, Phillips) quotes API spokesman Reid Porter, who said the industry group “oppose[s] Delaware River Basin Commission’s current de facto moratorium and any ban on hydraulic fracturing, it is bad public policy.”
NSTA Press Releases First Five Books In STEM Curriculum Series.
THE Journal (9/11) reports the National Science Teachers Association’s NSTA Press “released the first five books of its new STEM Road Map Curriculum Series for K–12.” The series is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core State Standards, and Framework for 21st Century Learning, and “follow the theme of innovation and progress, challenging students to solve real-world challenges across STEM fields.” THE Journal notes that “NSTA Press offers a library of activities and resources for the classroom and publishes 25 to 30 new digital and print books each year for pre-K through college science curricula.”
New York District Introduces New Engineering Course.
The Herkimer (NY) Times Telegram (9/11) reports Little Falls City School District in New York introduced a new Engineering By Design course this year “for students in kindergarten through eighth-grade.” The course covers a range of topics, “including an introduction to technology, system designs, transportation systems, community-related environmental problems, building green and marketing.” Over the summer, several science and technology teachers attended a four-day workshop “to learn about how to incorporate the Engineering By Design course into the district’s curriculum and at different grade levels.”
Hispanic Heritage Foundation President Encourages Latinos To Pursue STEM.
Hispanic Heritage Foundation president and chief executive Antonio Tijerino, in a piece for the San Antonio Express-News (9/11), laments that jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, fields are projected to grow, but “only 16 percent of high school seniors are proficient in math or even interested in STEM careers.” According to ED, only half of college students who pursue STEM-related fields “actually choose to work in a related career.” The statistics are “even more daunting” for Latinos, who account for less than two percent of STEM workers, but 20 percent of the population. Latino college enrollment grew by 35 percent between 1993 and 2014, presenting “an opportunity to work with partners and get creative about encouraging and supporting Latino students to go full ‘STEM’ ahead.” The US Army and Hispanic Heritage Foundation launched such an effort “to promote STEM careers and encourage youth to interactively ‘hack’ at what a path in STEM fields would be with established professionals.”
STEM Education Program Founder Named Rising Star Awards Finalist.
The AP (9/11) profiles Leaders of Future Technology owner Suzanne Delaney, one of four 2017 Rising Star Awards finalists. Stay Work Play and award partner NH Public Radio will announce the entrepreneur of the year at the Rising Star Awards in October. Delaney, “looking to inspire youth to become technical innovators,” founded the STEM education program last year to provide “local kids with the opportunity to attend after-school programs, summer camps and vacation-week programs to learn and have fun with programming and engineering.” Since programming classes are not offered until high school in many schools, Delaney “brings these sorts of programs forward for kids to engage with different software, whether it’s developing a computer game or learning to make a small robotic vehicle.” New Hampshire, where Delaney lives, does not “have as large of a tech industry as other states and by exposing kids to programming, robotics, game design, engineering and more at a young age,” but “Delaney hopes to change that.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• WPost A1 Reflects On Legacy Of NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Ahead Of Final Mission.
• NSF Funds Washington State Teacher 3D Printer Training.
• WSJournal’s Kessler: New York Needs To Reinvent Itself With Tech.
• Global Automakers Shifting Electric Car Research, Design To China.
• Some Experts Concerned Hackers Could Target Echo, Smart Devices.
• The Hill Analysis: Trump Appoints Climate Skeptics To EPA, DOE.
• Nebraska State BOE Approves New Science Standards To Include Climate Change Curriculum.