Leading the News
California, New Mexico Warn BLM Over Suspending Methane Waste Rule.
Law360 (11/6, Koenig) reports that “after convincing a federal judge last month to reactivate Obama-era regulations limiting methane gas emissions on public lands, the attorneys general of California and New Mexico on Monday warned the Bureau of Land Management that a formal suspension of those rules would similarly not hold up in court.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas “submitted public comments to the BLM arguing that the agency’s plan to delay and suspend the Waste Prevention Rule lacks legal justification.” The Grand Junction (CO) Daily Sentinel (11/7, Harmon) reports that “the Mesa County Commission on Monday endorsed a proposed rule that would reverse an Obama-era regulation governing flaring and venting of natural gas on federal and tribal lands.” The commission “approved a letter to the Bureau of Land Management asking the agency to delay ‘the most onerous and duplicative measures’ of the rules governing venting and flaring of natural gas, or methane, as part of the recovery and treating process.”
The Durango (CO) Herald (11/6, Romeo) reports that “nearly 100 people gathered at Durango’s Buckley Park on Monday to show support for a new rule aimed at reducing the wasteful leaking of methane at oil and gas sites, which faces revocation under the Trump administration.” Recently, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “proposed a one-year delay of the rules, though it’s unclear if he intends to rewrite the regulations or scrap them.” A public comment period on the matter ended Monday. The Farmington (NM) Daily Times (11/7, Petersen) reports that “more than a half dozen people voiced concerns about a federal rule to curb methane gas emissions today at Farmington’s Bureau of Land Management field office.”
Auburn Names New Director For Cyber Research Center.
The Birmingham (AL) Business Journal (11/6, Subscription Publication) reports that Auburn University has selected engineering professor David Umphress as “the newest director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center,” which is “designed for research, development of policy and practices and education in the cyber technology field.” Umphress “said his goal as director will be to establish a greater focus on economic impact in Alabama.”
New Jersey School Launches Program To Attract STEM Students.
NJBIZ (NJ) (11/2) reports that Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey “has joined the trend of high education institutions in the state reaching out to STEM students,” launching the Stevens Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science program on Monday. The initiative “will provide financial support and academic counseling to students considered an underrepresented minority in the STEM field.”
GOP Tax Plan Would Impact Colleges, K-12 Schools.
Politico Morning Education (11/6) reports that as House Republicans continue to promote their tax overhaul plan, “private colleges and universities are pushing back hard against a new 1.4 percent tax on their endowment earnings in the bill.” Moreover, higher education groups “are also seeking to avert the elimination of tax benefits for student loan borrowers and families paying for college that are worth roughly $65 billion over the next decade.” Meanwhile, “the bill would expand section 529 college savings accounts to cover K-12 expenses of up to $10,000 per year at private and religious schools, a move cheered by some school choice advocates.”
Higher Education Groups Criticize Tax Plan. Diverse Education (11/6) reports that higher education lobbying groups on Monday told Congress that the GOP tax overhaul plan would negatively impact college students. The piece quotes Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson saying, “It would increase the cost of college and impede efforts to develop the highly-skilled workforce needed to propel our nation’s economy forward.” Meanwhile, in a letter to the top members of the House Ways and Means Committee “signed by more than 40 higher education organizations, Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, expressed ‘grave concerns’ about the proposed tax bill.”
Mitchell: House Tax Bill Will Increase Cost Of College. In an op-ed for the Washington Post (11/6, Mitchell), former Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, writes that the House Republican tax bill “would, in one fell swoop, set back by decades the effort to make the cost of college more affordable for individuals from all walks of life.” Mitchell cites “a number of ways in which the House tax bill raises the cost of college for millions of Americans in total,” and express hope that “the House changes course. If not, it will be up to the Senate to forge a tax reform measure that offers tax relief to hard-working middle- and lower-income Americans in a way that does not increase college costs and does not make a quality higher education less accessible.”
NYTimes Analysis Examines GOP Bill’s Impact On Families Paying For College.
An analysis on the New York Times (11/6, Subscription Publication) website examines how the House Republican tax bill will impact students and families paying for college, The Times lays out two scenarios which “calculate how much taxpayers would owe under the current system, and how their tax bill might change if the Republican plan becomes law.”
Nearly Four Million Dropped Out With Student Debt Over Two Years.
In a piece for the Hechinger Report (11/6), Jill Barshay writes that according to an analysis of data from ED’s College Scorecard, “a total of 3.9 million undergraduates with federal student loan debt dropped out during fiscal years 2015 and 2016.” She adds that of that number, over 900,000, or 24%, dropped out of for-profit schools. Barshay writes that it is “a credit to the Department of Education that it continues releasing this data that isn’t flattering to the for-profit sector even as the Trump Administration has delayed and sought to ease regulations of for-profit universities.”
Research and Development
Florida International University Launches Internet Of Things Degree.
WTVJ-TV Miami (11/2) reports that Florida International University is offering an Internet of Things degree, which “will focus on technology involved in machine-to-machine communication, as well as to prevent hacking. Classes start this spring and the full program kicks off in fall.”
NASA To Incorporate 23 Cameras Into Mars 2020 Rover.
ExecutiveGov (11/6, Edwards) reports that NASA announced plans last Wednesday to incorporate a total of 23 cameras into the Mars 2020 Rover. The “nine engineering cameras, seven science cameras and another seven cameras for entry, descent and landing operations” will help the rover to investigate Mars’ “atmosphere and support science instruments as part of the exploration mission.” Mastcam-Z, one of the science cameras planned for the integration, will help to collect 3D images of the planet’s “geologic qualities.” Arizona State University Professor and Mastcam-Z Principal Investigator Jim Bell explained, “Routinely using 3D images at high resolution could pay off in a big way,” and that the cameras are “useful for both long-range and near-field science targets.”
New Research Finds Conditions On Enceladus May Be Able To Support Life.
The Daily Mail (11/6, Zolfagharifard) reports new research has found that tidal forces may have kept subterranean seas below the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus “liquid for billions of years – enough time for organisms to have developed.” A study recently published in the Nature Astronomy journal used computer models based on observations from the Cassini spacecraft to show that Enceldadus’ “sea is salty – and contains organic molecules.” University of Nantes planetary scientist Dr. Gael Choblet “and colleagues explored the possibility this additional heating comes from the effect of tidal forces acting on the highly porous core” of the moon. They found that the resulting hydrothermal activity would create enough heat to maintain liquid seas for millions of years. However, Choblet said that future missions will be require to determine “whether the required conditions have been sustained long enough for life to have emerged on this distant ocean world.”
Scientists Who Worked On Latest U.S. Report Warn Of Climate Change Risks.
In an op-ed in the New York Times (11/6, Horton, Hayhoe, Kopp, Doherty, Subscription Publication) climate scientists Radley Horton, Katharine Hayhoe , Robert Kopp, and Sarah Doherty, each of whom was involved in writing the U.S. Global Change Research Program report issued Friday, argue that “this report confirms and strengthens what the vast majority of climate scientists have known for decades: that climate is changing and humans are primarily responsible.” They also point to the “growing reasons for concern” in the report, such as a faster rate of ocean acidification. However, they also point to “reason for optimism,” and conclude that ultimately, “all Americans need to understand the risks we face, and the impact our choices will have on our future.”
University Of Wyoming To Expand Sensory Biology Center With NIH Grant.
The AP (11/6) reports that the National Institutes of Health awarded a $10 million grant to the University of Wyoming to establish “a new biomedical research center focusing on sensory biology.” The center will focus on research into “understanding and curing diseases,” and will be led by Professor Qian-Quan Sun of the Department of Zoology and Physiology. The center anticipates hiring four new faculty members.
Virginia Tech Team Selected For IARPA’s Fun GCAT Program.
Laboratory Equipment (11/6) reports a team led by investigators from the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech has been chosen through a competitive process to participate in the Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats (Fun GCAT) program sponsored by IARPA. The program “challenges research teams to develop new approaches and tools for screening nucleic acid sequences and for annotating and characterizing genes of concern, with the goal of preventing accidental or intentional creation of a biological threat.” The Virginia Tech team is one of four participating in the challenge. Once each team develops its system, IARPA will assess the system “on speed, accuracy, precision, and deployability. The best systems will be invited to continue for another one to two years of additional funding.”
Oil Recovery Drives Texas Firms To Hire 30,000 Workers In Past Year.
The Houston Chronicle (11/6, Eaton) reports that “Texas oil companies have hired more than 30,000 workers over the past year, a sharp turnaround after they laid off a third of the industry’s statewide workforce during the oil bust.” The amount “of Texas oil and gas workers reached more than 222,000 in September,” which is an increase of “16 percent from about 192,000 in the same month last year, the lowest point since the Great Recession in 2009.” Economist Karr Ingham states that “crude oil prices in Texas have been the essence of stability for more than a year. Demand is beginning to show signs of recovery and foreign oil suppliers led by OPEC appear to be committed to maintaining announced production cuts.”
World Oil (11/6) reports that the Texas Petro Index has increased to 181.4, which is “21.4% higher than in September 2016 and 22.4% higher than in November, when the TPI hit bottom at 148.2.” Ingham also said that “Texas producers this year through September have recovered nearly 10.8 MMbbl more oil than in the first nine months of 2016.” Ingham added that “it is uncertain how long the current pricing environment will continue and where we’ll go from here. But the momentum of the TPI indicates Texas producers will recovery a record volume of crude oil during 2018.”
Engineering and Public Policy
EPA: 85% Of US Counties Meet New Ozone Regulations.
The Hill (11/6, Cama) reports that the EPA on Monday certified “that 2,646 counties, two tribal areas and five territories, or about 85 percent of the nation’s counties, meet the new standard of 70 parts per billion of ozone in ambient air.” However, “officials said they would not yet declare the areas of ‘nonattainment,’ places that exceed the new limit, because they are ‘not yet prepared.’” Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA had an Oct. 1 deadline to make those decisions. In a statement, the EPA said, “In the spirit of cooperative federalism, EPA will continue to work with states and the public to help areas with underlying technical issues, disputed designations, and/or insufficient information.” The agency added, “Additionally, EPA modeling, state agency comments, and peer-reviewed science indicate international emissions and background ozone can contribute significantly to areas meeting attainment thresholds. The agency intends to address these areas in a separate future action.”
Environmental Group, Children Sue DOE, EPA Heads Over Efforts To Repeal Clean Power Plan.
Reuters (11/6, Flitter) reports that environmental group the Clean Air Council is supporting two children in their suit against President Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The suit seeks to prevent the White House and federal agencies from repealing the Clean Power Plan. The plaintiffs, ages 7 and 11, are alleging that they are suffering the effects of global warming, and that no regulations should be allowed to be repealed that would “increase the frequency and/or intensity of life-threatening effects of climate change.” The Hill (11/6, Henry) also covers the story.
Op-Ed: Texas Energy Generation Trends Won’t Be Affected By Federal Efforts On Coal.
In an op-ed in the San Antonio Express-News (11/6) Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, argues that “coal is dying off, at least in Texas, and there is not much that can, or should, be done about it.” He says data suggest that coal-fired plants have been retiring for the past decade due to the lowering price of natural gas, a trend that “shows no sign of slowing,” In the meantime, “total capacity for wind power will surpass that of coal for the first time in Texas” in 2018. He concludes that even if Trump Administration efforts “to resurrect the nation’s coal industry” are able to effect some markets, they “won’t affect Texas, because our electricity grid is wholly contained within our borders and thus beyond the reach of the feds.”
Arkansas CTE Students Participate In NASA Design And Prototyping Program.
The AP (11/6) profiles the Design and Prototyping HUNCH Program and the Northeast Arkansas Career and Technical Center. The advanced manufacturing/computer integrated manufacturing program, taught by Rick Barker, “was recently approved to participate in NASA’s design and prototyping HUNCH program.” According to NASA HUNCH, “The Design and Prototyping HUNCH Program is a way for students of all skill levels to develop innovative solutions to problems posed by life on the International Space Station,” and many such “projects are items personally requested by the International Space Station Crew to help ease living conditions aboard the station, giving students the opportunity to really make an impact on the lives of astronauts. Other projects come from flight crew systems and operational groups at NASA that need more idea development.” As for Barker’s class, “students learn basic machine tool knowledge and skills” using equipment like “computerized numerical control programming, CNC plasma cutter, 3-D printer, LYNX robotic arms, vertical milling machines and engine lathes.”
Oregon High School Students Help Teach Elementary Lego Robotics Lessons.
The Albany (OR) Democrat-Herald (11/6) reports that on Thursday, second grade students at Garfield Elementary School in Oregon completed their “final project in a series of lessons on Lego robotics.” Thursday’s lesson was led by “Cathy Law, with Oregon State University’s science, technology, engineering and math education program.” Two student volunteers from College Hill, an alternative high school in the Corvallis School District, assisted Law to complete “public service graduation requirements.” Since Garfield Elementary is a dual immersion school, finding Spanish-speaking “volunteers for the kindergarten through second grade Lego robotics program is always a challenge.” Law said that while community members and students from other high schools can volunteer, College Hill students are uniquely able to return often enough to establish relationships with the young students.
Study Examines Whether Science Fairs Help Improve Achievement, Interest In Science.
Education Week ’s (11/6) “Curriculum Matters” blog examines whether science fairs do in fact “help to improve student achievement or interest in science.” With the help of a four-year National Science Foundation informal science learning grant, Education Development Center co-director Abigail Levy is leading a study “analyzing a national survey and case studies of more than a dozen schools for clues about how the fairs might help pay dividends for students.” Levy and her team whittled down a sample of 1,200 middle schools “representing a range of geographies and demographics” to 168 schools. The researchers first realized that middle school science fairs vary “from place to place, in terms of whether they’re mandatory or not, and whether they have a central or a peripheral place in what students are studying in science.” In the next phase of their study, the researchers hope to clarify some ambiguity unveiled in the first phase, and “will also try to explore cost-effectiveness.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Federal, Puerto Rican Officials Disagree Over How Long It Will Take To Restore Power.
• Universities Post Declining Numbers Of American Graduate Students In STEM Fields.
• Opinion: Six Skill Areas Engineers Should Focus On To Succeed In IoT Economy.
• Google Outlines AI Project Capable Of Building Other Machine-Learning Algorithms.
• Amazon Opens New R&D Facility In Cambridge.
• NASA To Host Industry UAS Day.
• White House Approves The Release Of Report Blaming Humans For Climate Change.