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

Leading the News

College Admissions Reporter Says Admission Process Is “Out Of Whack.”

Eric Hoover, a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education covering college admissions, writes in the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(11/1, Hoover, Subscription Publication), “The admissions process is out of whack” whether considered by applicants, high school counselors, and even admissions counselors at the schools. Even the Justice Department is looking into allegations of “discrimination against high-achieving Asian-American college applicants.” Hoover points out that “only 13 percent of four-year colleges accept fewer than half of their applicants.” He cites “a recent report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling” finding “about half of institutions said an applicant’s ‘ability to pay’ was of at least ‘some importance’ in admissions decisions.” Hoover describes a number of considerations that go into admissions selections, but says grades and test scores are still the most important.

Hoover also offers in a short form in the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Hoover, Subscription Publication) some tips on college admissions, based on years of experience reporting on the subject. First, he says the decision is not “all about you” and so students who are not admitted should not take it “personally” as admissions are based on “competing goals, like increasing diversity and bringing in more revenue.” Second, he says the most important items are “grades and test scores,” but that once the school has a number of students who qualify on that basis, “differences among them become more important” such as evidence of “leadership, risk taking, emotional intelligence, fire for learning, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, optimism, grit, perseverance and the ability to overcome obstacles.” He also says that “some qualified students of limited means might get rejected for no reason other than lack of money.”

Higher Education

California Survey Finds Race, Income Differences In Views On Higher Education.

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, DeRuy) reports a Public Policy Institute of California poll of over 1,700 California adults conducted October 8-17 found “most Californians are concerned about college affordability and a significant number don’t think it’s necessary.” The poll also found that there is a significant “difference of opinions among ethnic groups” as “two-thirds of Latinos answer yes,” while “a slight majority of Asian- and African-Americans think so — but only 35 percent of whites agree.” Differences in income also show divisions as “almost 60 percent of those from households earning less than $40,000 say college is necessary,” compared to “only 42 percent from households making at least $80,000.”

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.

Research and Development

Research At Brown Finds Patterned Metal Resistant To Fatigue.

The Providence (RI) Business News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1) reports on research at Brown University into “how metals can be patterned at the nanoscale to be more resistant to fatigue.” A study published in Nature, “showed that boundaries in a metal’s atomic lattice with identical crystalline structures – known as nanotwins – can help to stabilize defects associated with repetitive strain and limit the accumulation of fatigue-related damage.” Co-author and Engineering professor Huajian Gao said, “This work represents a potential path to more fatigue-resistant metals, which would be useful in nearly every engineering setting.” The authors “electroplated bulk samples of copper with closely spaced twin structures within the plates’ crystalline grains” and found after repeated testing that “the stress response of the nanotwinned copper quickly stabilized at each strain amplitude” indicating “the material did not harden or soften under the strain as most metals would be expected to do.” By comparison, they tested “non-nanotwinned samples” which “displayed the type of cumulative fatigue effects that are common in most metals.”


Computer Skills Lead Demand In STEM Fields.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Lohr, Subscription Publication) reports on the demand for work in STEM-related fields, “much of the public enthusiasm for STEM education rests on the assumption that these fields are rich in job opportunity.” and not all fields boast abundant opportunities. “At LinkedIn, researchers identified the skills most in demand. The top 10 last year were all computer skills, including expertise in cloud computing, data mining and statistical analysis, and writing smartphone applications,” according to the Times. In addition, University of Washington Computer Science Professor Edward Lazowska, analyzing Bureau of Labor Statistics job projections for STEM fields, found that “in the decade ending in 2024, 73 percent of STEM job growth will be in computer occupations, but only 3 percent will be in the physical sciences and 3 percent in the life sciences.”

Engineering and Public Policy

NHTSA Seeks Commentary On Removing Automated Vehicle Barriers.

The New York Daily News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Chee) reports that “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) took another important step toward the reality of self-driving vehicles Friday, posting a request for input on the removal of regulations the agency sees as obstacles to the development and testing of autonomous vehicles.” The NHTSA statement specifically asks for “comments to identify any unnecessary regulatory barriers to Automated Safety Technologies, and for the testing and compliance certification of motor vehicles with unconventional automated vehicles designs.” The NHTSA has scheduled a listening session on November 6.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Beene) reports that “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering eliminating regulations that currently block self-driving vehicles designed without steering wheels, brake pedals or other driver controls from hitting the road.” A rulemaking summary posted on the Department of Transportation Department’s website states that comments are to be used to identify which alterations will be necessary to “safely lay a path for innovative automated vehicle designs and technology.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Pennsylvania High School Credits Blue Ribbon To Focus On AP, STEM.

The Wilkes-Barre (PA) Citizens’ Voice Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Buffer) reports Berwick Area High School has been named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School. The Berwick Area School District credited the award to “five years of progress in moving the entire student body forward through increased rigor, remediation for struggling students and an emphasis on bolstering the Advanced Placement and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum.”

California District Offers Bonuses In Effort To Sign Teachers.

The Sacramento (CA) Bee Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Lambert) reports the Natomas Unified School District, in order to compete in recruiting teachers, “is offering to cover most credential program costs, provide free use of a Macbook and give bonus pay for living within district boundaries.” Natomas Superintendent Chris Evans said that teachers who sign on “must agree to stay in the Natomas district for at least three years.” Evans said the state is experiencing a “crisis” of “a shrinking supply of teachers due to retirement, leaving the profession, higher student enrollment, low salaries and high cost of living.” Evans said that the district is also offering a $5,000 bonus for prospective teachers “earning credentials in particularly high-demand fields: math, science, special education, world languages and career technical education.” So far, “seventy candidates have expressed an interest in the program” and Evans said they should be in school classrooms by August 2019.

Florida District To Convert High School To Magnet Technical School.

The Tampa (FL) Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Solochek) reports Pasco County School Board members have “concerns” regarding a plan by Superintendent Kurt Browning “to transform Ridgewood High School into a magnet technical school.” Before approving the plan, they are asking for “more details about attendance zones, admission standards, program offerings, athletics and other issues.” The district administration explained that the school will offer students a choice among “four-year plans based on subject tracks leading to industry certifications and some college degrees” that would include at least “robotics…biomedical studies…welding and plumbing.” The school may have longer class days and other arrangements to ensure students may “graduate with 32 credits.” Current students who are not interested in career-technical tracks “would be reassigned to other area high schools.” A major reason for the change is that Ridgewood has received two ‘D’ grades from the state and would face sanctions if it incurred a third ‘D’.

Also in the News

ISM Manufacturing Index Dipped In October, But Manufacturing Expansion Continues.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Wiseman) reports, “American factories grew more slowly last month, but US manufacturing remains healthy.” Reporting on the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index, released Wednesday, the AP writes that the ISM index “dipped to 58.7 in October from a 13-year high 60.8 in September,” but added that “anything above 50 signals that US factories are expanding,” and that “manufacturers are on a 14-month winning streak.” The article also notes that “new orders, production, hiring and export orders all grew, though more slowly.” CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Sheetz) reports, “Manufacturing and labor strength likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to increase interest rates in December.” MarketWatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Bartash) reports, “US manufacturers are revved up and growing at the fastest pace since the end of the Great Recession in 2009,” pointing out that despite the dip in the October ISM index, “sixteen of the 18 industries tracked by ISM reported growth.” MarketWatch adds, “Manufacturers have put the pedal to the metal, helped by a steady growth at home, an improved global economy and a cheaper dollar that’s boosted US exports,” and states that “if Congress passes a highly anticipated bill that cuts corporate taxes, manufacturers and other US companies could enter 2018 with an even bigger head of steam.” Dow Jones Newswires Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Leubsdorf, Subscription Publication) writes that the ISM report “was strong despite the pullback from September.” Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1) quotes ISM Manufacturing Group Chair Timothy Fiore saying, “We are on a good trajectory,” adding that “the US manufacturing sector is on track to grow for another 12 months as demand remains strong.” Dow Jones Newswires Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Prang, Subscription Publication), in a separate article, quotes ISM Markit Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson saying, “Production volumes jumped higher on the back of a substantial improvement in order book inflows, in part due to supply chains returning to normal after the hurricanes but also reflecting a combination of strong underlying demand.” Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Philip) reports that “manufacturing remained solid in October,” and that “growth in manufacturing has been steady for the better part of two years, fueled by consumer spending and business investment.”

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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