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

Leading the News

Study Finds CTE Courses Increase On-time Graduation Rates, But Do Not Increase College Enrollment.

Education Week Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Gewertz) reports on a study published in the American Educational Research Journal conducted at the University of California at Santa Barbara finding that “career and technical education classes in high school increases students’ odds of graduating on time, but doesn’t improve their chances of enrolling in college.” The researchers also found that students who took CTE courses reduced their “chances of dropping out” and that “each yearlong career and technical education course students took sometime during high school boosted their chances of on-time graduation by 1.6 percent,” but “had no effect on whether students went to college right after high school.” Diverse Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Abdul-Alim) reports high school seniors “were 2.1 percent more likely to graduate and 1.8 percent less likely to drop out for each CTE course they took.” Yet, it also found that “taking CTE courses during freshman and sophomore years had only a small impact on on-time graduation and dropout rates.”

Higher Education

University Of Dayton Receives NSF Research Grant For Laser Project.

The Dayton (OH) Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Subscription Publication) reports the University of Dayton has received a $300,000 grant for a laser project. The project “contributes to the more than $3 million of NSF research being conducted by UD’s college of Arts and Sciences faculty.”

Delaware State Faculty Receive NSF Grant.

The Dover (DE) Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/30) reports the National Science Foundation “has awarded a quartet of biological sciences faculty members a $252,639 instrumentation grant that will give Delaware State University students greater research opportunities.” The NSF grant will “fund the purchase of an Agilent Technologies Seahouse,” which will enhance research at DSU and “be a critical component of the redesigned core curriculum in biology in the development of a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience that will provide an opportunity for students to participate in authentic research.”

University Director: Canada Lacks Ecosystem To Retain Top Researchers.

University of Toronto Director of International Research Partnerships at the University of Toronto Illan Kramer writes in the Globe and Mail (CAN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Kramer) that “some of the smartest people one could ever hope to meet” study at the University of Toronto. While the majority of the researchers he worked with enjoyed their time in Toronto and hoped to stay and work, “many of them found that the research and industry ecosystem simply could not support people of their immense talents. And so they trickled away.” Canada and its academic institutions already do “the heavy lifting of attracting these brilliant people here and encouraging them to set up their lives.” But in order to “keep the massive pool of talent” it already attracts, Canada needs “to continue to foster a robust ecosystem with both major multinationals and burgeoning startups.”

Doctoral Engineering Research Showcase
The National GEM Consortium (GEM) and ASEE are hosting a Doctoral Engineering Research Showcasefor doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and new faculty to display their leading-edge technical research and connect with potential agency sponsors and academic employers. The event is in Washington, DC, January 22-23, 2018. Watch this short video for more details.

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.

VIDEO – Engineering Technology Leaders Institute 
Congressman Tim Ryan and others discuss the impact the nation’s engineering technology deans can have on public policy.


President’s Directive To Spend $200 Million On STEM Grants Praised.

EdSource Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/30, Jones) reports on “the White House’s pledge to spend $200 million on science, math and computer education” quoting Vincent Stewart, executive director of the California STEM Network at Children Now, saying, “I think it’s positive that the White House is talking about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, but we just need to see more details.” EdSource adds that President Trump directed Education Secretary DeVos in a September memo “to devote at least $200 million annually to STEM grants, with an emphasis on computer science and programs that benefit underrepresented minorities.”’s chief operating officer Cameron Wilson said, “If (the $200 million) does go toward computer science, it’s a significant amount of money.”

Industry News

Nickel Increasingly Important To Producers Of Electric Car Batteries.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Regan, Burton) reports that makers of batteries for electric vehicles “are increasingly turning to nickel to help power growing global electric car sales, but only half of the world’s producers of the metal are likely to benefit, mining analysts and executives say.” It adds, “Lithium batteries containing nickel, which helps keep a charge over longer distances, are being installed in electric cars from Tesla’s top-of-the-line Model X to General Motors Co modestly-priced Chevy Bolt,” and points out that “the battery boom promises a new and growing market for miners producing high-grade nickel products.” Only about “half the world’s supply of the metal” is suitable for battery production, however. Producers of nickel “stand to win” from the growing emphasis on electric vehicles, Reuters writes, and “these producers are building plants to convert the metal into a powder-like sulfate that is particularly suited for use in batteries.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Congress Considers Two Bills Over Self-Driving Vehicles.

MinnPost (MN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Brodey) reports that during the fall of 2017 “Congress has moved uncharacteristically quickly to advance legislation governing” self-driving vehicles. Two bills have been proposed and are aiming to place central issues under the purview of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao issued a set of guidelines on autonomous vehicles, which are voluntary. The guidelines relegated “privacy issues to a footnote” which “angered consumer advocates, who view self-driving cars as a crucial next frontier on privacy.”

NHTSA Requests Feedback On Self-Driving Car Safety Rules, Considers Revisions.

The Car Connection Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Miller) reports that “The NHTSA says it wants companies that are currently developing self-driving technology to point out ‘unnecessary regulatory barriers to automated safety technologies.’” The NHTSA is attempting to alter the rules governing automobile safety so that in the future, drivers aren’t needed. Additionally, the NHTSA “will request commentary from the industry on the direction of its future research, as it embarks on forming its own dataset on self-driving safety issues.”

US International Trade Commission Supports Tariffs, Import Restrictions On Solar Panels.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Mooney) reports that “the four commissioners of the US International Trade Commission on Tuesday voiced their support for tariffs and other import restrictions to protect domestic solar companies from an influx of cheap solar panels being produced overseas.” The Post adds that “the proposed remedies were not consistent among the commissioners and did not go as far as the two companies that brought the action before the board had requested – leaving few parties happy with the outcome along with lingering uncertainty over the ultimate endpoint of the process, which will be determined by President Trump,” and points out that “the case has divided the solar energy industry.” The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Daly) reports the Commission “recommended on Tuesday that the Trump administration impose tariffs as high as 35 percent to slow an influx of low-cost solar panels imported from China and other countries.” It notes that “Georgia-based Suniva Inc. and Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas brought the trade case, saying the imports have pushed them to the brink of extinction.” Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(10/31, Natter, Martin) reports that the decision was met with “a collective sigh of relief” from the solar industry. It writes that the ITC “voted unanimously in September that US solar manufacturers were being harmed by cheap imports, [but] was divided on what to recommend to Trump,” pointing out that the president “has wide discretion to adopt one of the commissioner’s recommendations, do something else altogether, or nothing at all,” but his “deadline for a decision is Jan. 12.” The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Swanson, Subscription Publication) reports that “the case is unique because it relies on a rarely used section of federal trade law, known as Section 201 or a ‘global safeguard investigation,’ which gives the president broad authority to impose tariffs or other restrictions to help protect a domestic industry.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Clemson Online Courses Teach Skills To Get Job In Advanced Manufacturing.

Greer (SC) Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) reports, “About 300 students in two Greer schools are beginning to use” online courses from Clemson University, “to learn the skills they need to land a job in advanced manufacturing.” The courses teach “soft skills” and are being piloted in the Greer schools, but are expected to be used statewide. The courses “include video lectures and electronic books, alongside virtual reality simulations.”

School Systems Introduce WiFi-Enabled School Buses.

CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Randhawa) reports that low-income homes with children “are four times more likely to lack broadband as middle or high income families,” and the gap is widening. To address the issue, some school systems have introduced WiFi school buses, which offer a “new approach to help students without access to fast broadband at home get connected.” The school buses “are equipped with routers and students use a public network to connect to the internet.”

Also in the News

Labor Department: US Labor Costs Increase, Driven By Wage Gains In Manufacturing.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Golle) reports, “US employment costs picked up in the third quarter from the previous three months, helped in part by faster wage gains in manufacturing.” The department’s Employment Cost Index “advanced 0.7 percent (matching est.) after a 0.5 percent gain in the prior three months,” while “wages and salaries also rose 0.7 percent in third quarter,” and “benefits costs climbed 0.8 percent after rising 0.6 percent.” In addition, Labor Department data “showed a 1 percent increase in manufacturer employment costs from the prior quarter, helped by a jump at aircraft makers.”

US Consumer Confidence Approaches 17-Year High. Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Mutikani) reports, “US consumer confidence jumped to a near 17-year high in October, with households upbeat about the labor market and business conditions, which could underpin consumer spending and boost the economy in the final three months of the year.” Reuters adds that “the economy’s prospects were further bolstered by other reports on Tuesday showing an acceleration in wage growth in the third quarter and sustained increases in house prices in August,” stating that “strong domestic fundamentals [are] likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates in December.” The article also points out that “The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index increased 5.3 points to 125.9 this month, the highest reading since December 2000.”

Regional Manufacturing Indexes Show “US Manufacturing Is Powering Up.”

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Golle) reports, “America’s factories cranked it up in October, according to the latest regional manufacturing indexes.” It adds, “From Milwaukee to Dallas to New York state, measures improved to multi-year highs, reflecting robust orders growth as the global economy shows some promise.” It points out that the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported recently that “manufacturing business activity was the firmest in more than 11 years,” while the “Kansas City Fed’s measure advanced to the strongest reading since March 2011,” and “the New York Fed’s Empire State factory index climbed to the highest since September 2014.”

Marquette, ISM Survey Showed Increase In Factory Activity In October In US Upper Midwest. Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(10/31, Leong) reports, “A measure of factory activity in the US Upper Midwest increased in October, led by improved readings in new orders, production and business outlook, according a private survey released on Tuesday.” The survey, by Marquette University and the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee “said their seasonally adjusted index on manufacturing in the Milwaukee region rose to 63.61 this month from 60.24 in September.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

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