Leading the News
New York Grad School Dedicated To Develop Engineering, Entrepreneurial Talent.
The AP (9/13, Matthews) reports that New York City’s “quest to make itself a legitimate rival to Silicon Valley as a high-tech hub has long bumped up against some harsh realities, among them the fact it hasn’t had a top-tier technology school pumping out the next generation of entrepreneurs and engineers.” The article adds that “a potential answer to that problem, a new technology-oriented graduate school called Cornell Tech, was dedicated Wednesday at a ceremony at its new campus on an island in the East River.” The AP quotes Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling the school “an important milestone in New York state’s long-term economic strategy and a powerful symbol of possibility,” and adding that New York was losing ground on technology development “not because others were winning but because we were not competing.” The article describes the new grad school as a “collaboration between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, built with the help of hundreds of millions of dollars from philanthropies and from the city.” Initially, the school will have “250 master’s degree students and 50 doctoral students taking classes this fall,” however, “officials hope to ramp up to 2,000 students by the time the campus is fully developed.”
The New York Times (9/13, Sheets, Subscription Publication) reports that many of the new students at the Roosevelt Island campus “have been busy decoding the diagrams in Matthew Ritchie’s dynamic mural rising up four stories in the atrium of the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, the main academic building. This is not lobby decoration tacked on as an afterthought. From the early design stages, Thom Mayne, the founder of Morphosis Architects, and his team integrated the mural and four other immersive installations in the cafe and unexpected ‘discovery rooms’ throughout the new building: an art program engineered to provoke creative thinking.”
NYU Tandon School Of Engineering Set To Launch New Brooklyn Facility.
Crain’s New York Business (9/12) reports, “New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering will begin its move into 370 Jay St. during the next month, marking the completion of a $350 million renovation of the 13-story former Metropolitan Transportation Authority building in Downtown Brooklyn.” The piece reports the move “signals NYU’s emergence as a potential tech powerhouse more than four decades after it shut down its engineering school in the midst of a financial crisis.” The school is “hiring 40 new faculty members and renovating its civil, chemical and mechanical engineering labs on its MetroTech Center campus—across the street from 370 Jay St.—as part of NYU’s overall $900 million investment in the Brooklyn location.”
Denver Superintendent Calls On DeVos To Work To Protect DACA.
Chalkbeat (9/13) reports that though DeVos didn’t visit any public schools in Denver, “that didn’t stop Superintendent Tom Boasberg from getting his point across.” DeVos wrote to call “on DeVos to protect a program that defers the deportation of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.” The piece quotes the letter saying, “We implore you to use all the efforts of your office to ask the President to reverse his decision and work with Congress to find a humane solution that builds on our country’s history and the American Dream.”
Cal State Chancellor Expresses Hope Congress Will Preserve DACA.
The Los Angeles Times (9/13) reports, “California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White, who flew to Washington, D.C., this week to speak out against President Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” expressed reserved confidence that congress will preserve the program. Speaking to officials in Washington, including acting Under Secretary James Manning, White “made his case for the more than 8,000 students without legal status at Cal State, the nation’s largest public university system.”
GAO Report Calls On Colleges To Better Facilitate Transfer Credits.
The Washington Post (9/13, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that according to a new report from het Government Accountability Office, “students lose nearly half of the college credits they earn transferring from one school to another, placing them at risk of exhausting federal grants and loans to repeat courses.” The Post explains that students often take their first years of college at community colleges to save money, but are “often frustrated to learn that the math or science courses they took do not meet the standards of their new school, where they must now enroll in classes they’ve already completed.”
Research and Development
Cassini Transmits Final Images, Prepares For Final Descent Into Saturn.
BBC News (UK) (9/14, Amos) reports that NASA engineers expect to lose contact with the Cassini probe Friday “about 6 seconds after 04:55 local time here at mission control in California” when the probe is destroyed by Saturn’s atmosphere. The spacecraft is taking final pictures of Saturn and its moons Enceladus and Titan before the descent. NASA Project Scientist Linda Spilker said that the agency is “going to look on the dark side of Saturn at that point where Cassini will be plunging into the atmosphere, looking in the near-infrared and the ultraviolet, trying to get some pictures of Cassini’s final home inside the planet Saturn itself.” NASA’s Hunter Waite said that during the final descent, the probe’s Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer will be able to collect data such as the “hydrogen to helium ratio…that’s important in terms of understanding the formation and evolution of Saturn.” The probe has transmitted more than 453,000 images and 635 GB of scientific data during its 13 year mission, both of which have accounted for the publication of 3,948 scientific papers. CNET News (9/13, Mack) reports that Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye said, “Cassini’s grand finale is both exciting and bittersweet,” but that the craft’s contribution to science “will carry on long after the spacecraft’s farewell.” SPACE (9/13, Wall) explains that Cassini’s grand finale was engineered chiefly to keep the ecosystems of Titan and Enceladus pristine.
Researchers Use Artificial Intelligence Algorithm to Speed Up Assessment Of Bone Age.
Aunt Minnie (9/14, Ridley) reports on research published in the American Journal of Roentgenology of a Korean research team that “trained a deep-learning algorithm that yielded estimates of bone age that correlated significantly with a reference bone age,” which may help radiologists read cases up to 29 percent faster when used as a “second reader.” Dr. Jeong Rye Kim of Asan Medical Center in Seoul concluded, “[Our] automatic software system showed reliably accurate bone age estimations and appeared to enhance efficiency by reducing reading times without compromising the diagnostic accuracy.”
DOE Investing $20 Million In Cybersecurity.
Security Week (9/13, Kovacs) reports that the Energy Department “announced on Tuesday its intention to invest up to $50 million in the research and development of tools and technologies that would make the country’s energy infrastructure more resilient and secure.” More than $20 million of that amount “has been allocated to projects focusing on cyber security.” The funding, “awarded to various national laboratories, will be used to support early-stage research and development of next-generation tools and technologies that improve the resilience and security of critical energy infrastructure, including the power grid, and oil and natural gas infrastructure.” The Idaho National Laboratory “has been tasked with developing a technique that will help secure firmware on the embedded systems used by field devices, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory will work on designing a quantum secure communication operational network.” E&P Magazine (9/13) also reports the story.
Boeing Wins $600 Million Contract For Air Force One Replacement.
Reuters (9/13, Beech) reports that the Pentagon has awarded The Boeing Company a $600 million contract for preliminary design work on two 747-8 aircraft that will be used as replacements for the current Air Force One fleet. Reuters (9/13, Banerjee) reports that the designs will “incorporate a mission communication system, electrical power upgrades, a medical facility and a self-defense system,” according to the US Air Force. The redesign in total “is expected to be a long process,” and additional contracts for engineering and manufacturing development are expected next summer.
Engineering and Public Policy
Senate Committee Holds Hearing On Automated Commercial Trucks.
The Detroit Free Press (9/13, Spangler) reports the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday “held a hearing…focused on the future of self-driving commercial trucks.” Ken Hall, General Secretary Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, told the committee, “It is incumbent upon the members of this committee that workers are not left behind in this process.” Former NTSB Chair Deborah A.P Hersman, President and CEO of the National Safety Council, said that self-driving commercial trucks could be “game-changing.” Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said they are unlikely to be on the road soon, but that some automated features could improve “safety and efficiency.” Committee Chairman Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said the guidelines issued by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the NHTSA are a good reason to clarify the status of autonomous trucks in legislation. The Hill (9/13, Zanona) reports discussions about trucks have “been holding up the final release of Senate legislation” and Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) issued “a discussion draft” with “major gaps” while they work on addressing the issues raised by trucks.
The Los Angeles Times (9/13, Masunaga) reports fully automated trucks may come sooner than cars because their routes are “easier for sensor technology to navigate than more complicated city grids.” Teamster treasurer Hall said, “We need to make sure that we’re taking the time to look at some of the aspects that are so much different about trucks than they are automobiles.” Hersman told the committee automated trucks could be a “game changer when it comes to highway fatalities.”
Reuters (9/13, Shepardson) reports Navistar International Corp CEO Troy Clarke told the committee that trucks should be included in legislation which was not done in the bill unanimously approved by the House last week, which only applied to vehicles under 10,000 pounds. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has in the past raised concerns about the employment effects of automated trucks, but Spear argued those effects are “decades” away. Sen. Peters said legislation should go forward and trucking could be addressed in a separate bill. Thune said he hopes to include trucks in the legislation. The San Francisco Chronicle (9/13, Baker) reports that Clarke and Spear both suggested that automated trucks “might actually increase the number of trucking jobs,” by changing truck driving to “something much more like that of an airline pilot,” according to Clarke, while Spear suggested the changes could result in drivers that are “less fatigued, better rested,” adding, “we don’t see it as a displacement issue, because we don’t believe level 5 — no steering wheel, no driver — is imminent.”
DHS Bans Kaspersky Lab Software In Federal Civilian Agencies.
The Washington Post (9/13, Nakashima, Gillum) reports that the US government on Wednesday “banned the use of a Russian brand of security software by federal agencies and gave them three months to remove the software amid concerns the company has ties to state-sponsored cyberespionage activities, according to US officials.” The Post says acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke “ordered that Kaspersky Lab software be barred from federal civilian government networks, giving agencies a timeline to get rid of it.” She “ordered the scrub on the grounds that the company has connections to the Russian government and its software poses a security risk.”
The New York Times (9/13, Nixon, Subscription Publication) reports, “Kaspersky is considered one of the foremost cybersecurity research firms in the world, and has considerable expertise in designing antivirus software and tools to uncover spyware used by Western intelligence services.” However, “its origins in Russia have for years fueled suspicions about its possible ties to Russia’s intelligence agencies.” Duke, in a statement, said, “The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates US national security.”
CNN’s Situation Room (9/13) reported that the Department of Homeland Security “said under Russian law, Russian intelligence agencies may be able to compel Kaspersky Lab to cooperate or provide access in a way that could undermine the security of US federal agencies.”
NBC News (9/13) quotes a DHS statement: “The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.”
The AP (9/13) reports that the directive “comes as various U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies and several congressional committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.” Kaspersky Lab “said in a statement that it was disappointed by the directive and insisted ‘it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russia.’” Also, “Kaspersky said it is not subject to the Russian laws cited in the directive and said information received by the company is protected in accordance with legal requirements and stringent industry standards, including encryption.”
The Wall Street Journal (9/13, Sonne, Subscription Publication) reports that according to Kaspersky, the Russian laws referenced in the directive apply to telecom companies and Internet service providers, not antivirus companies.
EPA Delays New Limits For Toxic Metals In Coal-Fired Power Plant Wastewater Until 2020.
Reuters (9/13, Gardner) reports that the US Environmental Protection Agency announced it is postponing new limits on toxic metal and other pollutants in the wastewater of coal-fired power plants until 2020. The EPA estimated the rule would cost coal plants approximately $480 million in annual compliance costs, and that the “benefits associated with the pollution reductions will be worth $451 million to $566 million a year.”
The AP (9/13, Webber) reports, “postponing the rule for two years would give utilities relief from the pending deadlines to upgrade pollution-control equipment while the agency revisits some of the rule’s requirements, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.” Environmental groups sued the EPA when it attempted to delay the rule back in April, and say they will challenge the new move as well.
Kury: Underground Power Lines Not Necessarily Cheaper Or Safer.
In an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, (9/13, Kury) Theodore J. Kury, director of Energy Studies at the University of Florida, discusses the pros and cons of burying power lines. Known as “undergrounding,” he says it is “expensive, requires the involvement of many stakeholders and might not solve the problem” of power line damage at all. As an example, Kury explains that in the North Carolina Utilities Commission and electric utilities previously explored the feasibility of undergrounding all of the state’s distribution lines, but concluded that “the project would take 25 years to complete and increase electricity rates by 125 percent.” In addition, Kury says that underground power lines may be “more susceptible to damage from corrosive storm surge and flooding.” He recommends that the relocation of power lines underground should be evaluated “individually by the local distribution utility and its regulator – otherwise consumers will end up spending more for their electricity service, and getting less.”
Maryland Green Groups Launch Campaign For 50 Percent Renewable Energy.
The Washington Post (9/13, Hicks) reports environmentalists in Maryland “have begun a push to require state utilities to buy half of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2030, promising to make the issue a top focus of the 2018 legislative session and election.” The Maryland Climate Coalition and the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative “are leading the effort.” Over “330 organizations have pledged support for the drive, including other environmental groups, businesses, faith organizations, labor unions and the Maryland NAACP.”
The Baltimore Sun (9/13, Dance) reports their campaign “would double a policy adopted last year requiring that renewable energy account for 25 percent of the state’s electricity portfolio by 2020. The campaign is setting a target of 2030 for the new goal.”
After Denials From Obama Administration, DeVos ED Approves California Science Testing Plan.
The Los Angeles Times (9/13) reports that after the Obama administration’s ED twice denied California’s request to “drop an old science test in favor of a new one,” “last month Betsy DeVos’ Education Department gave California officials the answer they originally wanted.” Acting Assistant Education Secretary Jason Botel wrote that California “has retroactive permission to have used the new test without reporting test scores for last year — by which time, if all goes smoothly, the state will be ready to start reporting results.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• NSF Gives Purdue $20 Million Grant To Develop Shale Gas Research.
• ED Delaying Loan Forgiveness Requests For Students Of Fraudulent For-Profit Colleges.
• NSF Awards Georgia Tech Grant To Establish Center For Cell Manufacturing Technologies.
• Energy Department Announces Obama’s Solar Goal Met Early.
• NSF Awards Penn State Behrend Grant To Enhance Regional Manufacturing Education.