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

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Higher Education

Commentary: Trump’s Plans To Cut College Work-Study Program “Troubling.”

In commentary for The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26), Jim Larimore, the chief officer at the ACT Center for Equity in Learning, writes that it is “deeply troubling” that President Trump’s budget plan “will actually stop people from getting jobs, specifically young, bright ambitious people who have their eyes on the American dream.” Larimore writes that the “administration wants to cut roughly 300,000 college students (about half of current participants) from the federal work-study program.” He cites research showing “that students in the federal work-study program increase ‘the likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree within six years.’”

From ASEE
ASEE Week of Giving
This week, we’re asking members to help us get to 25 by 125 – that is, $25K in time for our 125th anniversary next year. Donate here!

NEW from ABET – Engineering Change: Lessons from Leaders on Modernizing Higher Education Engineering Curriculum
This issue brief offers a glimpse into the best practices at play for driving change within engineering programs across the country, and the benefits that have been realized as a result.

Research and Development

Workforce

SpaceX, Google, Tesla Top List Of Preferred Companies For Tech Workers.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Wong) reports, “Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Shopify Inc. and Tesla Inc. are the most appealing companies for technology workers, according to a survey by online jobs marketplace Hired.” Bloomberg adds, “While big tech names topped the list, geographical breakdowns showed more diversity,” writing that “startups like SendGrid Inc., which does marketing email, had the highest ranking in Denver, while financial services like Capital One Financial Corp. topped scores in Washington.” The article states that “Hired, which surveyed 2,349 people who use its platform, said job candidates were looking not for just a good salary but to develop new skills and be part of a company with a strong culture that reflected their values.”

Industry News

New, Growing Firms Tout Innovations at Southern Arizona Tech + Business Expo.

The Arizona Daily Star Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/25) reports that several “new or growing Tucson tech companies presented overviews of their technologies” at the Southern Arizona Tech + Business Expo in Tucson on Wednesday. The article focuses on Caterpillar, whose “new operation in Tucson will help meet growing demand for autonomous trucks and other technologies” according to an executive with the firm.

Japan’s Carmakers Seek To Rekindle Motorhead Culture Among Youth.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Tajitsu) reports on the attempts to revive a car culture among Japanese youth, saying that “even those young Japanese who do get the car bug are unimpressed by the domestic choices on offer” today compared to 20 years ago, when automakers like Honda “forged a global reputation for their stylish, fast, highly engineered cars.” According to the story, there are 30-percent fewer license holders in Japan under the age of 30 relative to how many there were in 2001, despite overall growth in the population of license holders.

Engineering and Public Policy

Three Gas-Fired Power Plants In California Will Close End Of 2017.

Engineering360 Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Wagman) reports that, according to a filing with the CPUC, NRG Energy will “retire three gas-fired power plants in California by the end of 2017,” because “none of the three facilities at the Mandalay Generating Station was selected in a bidding process in early October with Southern California Edison.” Engineering360 says the CPUC will consider NPG’s request to suspend the application for a new power plant in late October. While NPG “planned to build a gas-fired facility to replace two of three existing power plants by 2020,” recent “reports have suggested that California has an oversupply of natural gas-fired generating units.” Engineering360 adds that energy storage technology may be an alternative to the gas-fired plants. Stem Inc. Director of Business Development Matt Owens said, “In California, the debate is not coal versus gas but gas versus distributed generation” and storage. Stem “has a contract with SCE deploy distributed energy storage devices across part of the utility’s service territory.”

Trump Nominates Mining Engineer To Be Top Federal Coal Mine Regulator.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Henry) reports that the White House on Thursday announced the nomination of J. Steven Gardner, the president of engineering firm ECSI, LLC, to be the director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lauded the nomination, calling Gardner “an unbelievable asset to coal country and the entire team at the Department of the Interior.” Gardner said in a statement Thursday, “My whole life, I have been involved with mining on multiple levels, and I understand the importance of these issues to the communities we serve.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Lovan) reports that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the nomination is a “welcome relief” to the coal industry. However, “environmentalists criticized Gardner’s lack of experience as a government regulator and defense of mountaintop removal mining, a controversial mining technique that alters landscapes with blasting and dumping into valleys.”

Also reporting are Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Volcovici), the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Ward), the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26), and Montana Public Radio Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Speier).

CU Boulder Study Links Raton Basin Earthquakes To Oil And Gas Wastewater Injections.

In continuing coverage, the Boulder (CO) Daily Camera Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/25, Lewett) reports new research by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Geological Sciences links small earthquakes in the Raton Basin, located in southern California and northern New Mexico, to wastewater injections by oil and gas companies. The research supports “and builds upon the findings of two previous studies linking earthquakes to the wastewater injections in Raton Basin.” CU doctoral student Jenny Nakai, the lead author of the study, said, “What makes our research different is by having established a causative mechanism for the seismic activity — which is the increase in pore pressure from the area’s wells.”

Cohn Tells Lawmakers White House Considering Gas Tax Hike To Pay For Infrastructure Plan.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Halsey) reports “the White House is revisiting an increase in the federal gas tax to pay for infrastructure improvements President Trump promised to deliver on the campaign trail.” The Post adds that the “news was conveyed to House members Wednesday in a meeting by…Gary Cohn.” Says “a GOP House staff member familiar with the long-standing resistance to a gas tax hike by many” Hill Republicans, “Probably whatever we end up being able to do in Washington, it’s going to take administration leadership to get out there and push for it.” NBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, White) reports the US gas tax has not been raised in more than 20 years, but finding lawmakers willing to vote for the legislation may be difficult. Pat McKinnon, senior director at Euler Hermes North America, said, “I think there’s an understanding and awareness on the part of the public that our infrastructure needs work.” Meanwhile Tax Policy Center research associate Richard Auxier said a vote in support could be a basis for attacks in next year’s midterms.

California Gas Tax To Take Effect Next Week. The San Francisco Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Pender) reports California’s 12 cent gas tax is set to take effect next week. Gasoline prices will rise within days of the increase, but the overall impact will be muted by the state’s switch from summer to winter grades of gasoline. AAA spokesman for Northern California Michael Blasky said most stations will “see a 3- to 5-cent increase next week. … After that, it’s hard to say.”

Education Department Warns Of “New Threat” Of Cybercriminals Threatening Release Of School Records.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Strauss, Balingit) “Answer Sheet” reports, “A group calling itself the ‘Dark Overlord’ says it hacked into school districts in several states, released student data and threatened violence in recent weeks.” The Education Department, apparently in reference to the hackers, has “issued a warning of a ‘new threat’ from criminals who vowed to release sensitive records unless extortion demands were met.” Dark Overlord was not named in the department’s warning, “but the group took credit on Twitter for releasing information on students in a few school districts – which temporarily closed schools – and issuing threats of violence against children if demands were not met. No violence has been reported.”

Tesla Donation Restores Power At Puerto Rico Hospital.

The CBS Evening News (10/26, story 9, 0:20, Mason) reported that power has been restored “at a children’s hospital in Puerto Rico, thanks to a major energy boost from Tesla,” which “donated a power system that runs on solar panels and batteries.”

Cohn Tells Lawmakers White House Considering Gas Tax Hike To Pay For Infrastructure Plan.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Halsey) reports “the White House is revisiting an increase in the federal gas tax to pay for infrastructure improvements President Trump promised to deliver on the campaign trail.” The Post adds that the “news was conveyed to House members Wednesday in a meeting by…Gary Cohn.” Says “a GOP House staff member familiar with the long-standing resistance to a gas tax hike by many” Hill Republicans, “Probably whatever we end up being able to do in Washington, it’s going to take administration leadership to get out there and push for it.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

New Mexico Decision To Adopt Next Generation Science Standards Wins Applause.

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) reports that New Mexico state legislators, educators, and scientists applauded Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski’s decision earlier this week to “adopt the Next Generation Science Standards as written, with the addition of six state-specific standards.” However, speaking before a legislative committee, educators warned “that the state faces and long and costly process of implementing the standards that will include paying for new instructional materials and teacher training.” The paper explains that earlier plans to adopt the standards with a number of significant omissions had generated substantial controversy.

Michigan Governor To Roll Out “Marshall Plan For Talent.”

The Detroit News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Oosting) reports that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will reveal a “Marshall plan for talent” in the “coming weeks and will ask legislators for a ‘fairly significant’ amount of one-time state funding to jumpstart efforts at the K-12 school, community college and university levels.” The Detroit News says Snyder “has already begun efforts to address shortages in K-12 computer science teachers and direct students toward” high-tech jobs. Snyder said, “This is one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing areas in our entire economy, and that’s not going to change.” The Detroit News notes that Snyder’s remarks coincide with the city’s “attempt to woo Amazon” into choosing Detroit for its second world headquarters.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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