Leading the News
Thales To Collaborate With AMOG Technologies On Submarine Stealth Tech.
The Manufacturers’ Monthly (AUS) (12/20) reports Thales will collaborate with Melbourne-based AMOG Technologies “on new research into stealth technology for submarine periscopes and optronic masts.” AMOG, “an offshore and maritime engineering company,” will work with Thales “on the first phase of a technology evaluation study.” Australian Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said, “This collaborative technology development effort between local suppliers and global Prime contractors is a model we encourage.” The research will examine “whether patented technology developed by AMOG Technologies, and currently deployed in the offshore oil and gas sector, has applications to reduce the probability of submarine mast detection as they cut through water,” Pyne said. The minister added a successful result “could open up opportunities for local module manufacture for application to submarine periscopes and masts produced at Thales’ facility in the United Kingdom.”
IHS Jane’s 360 (12/19, Stevenson) reports similarly.
NSF Gives University Of New Orleans $1 Million Grant For STEM Scholarships.
New Orleans CityBusiness (12/19) reports the National Science Foundation has given the University of New Orleans a grant worth nearly $1 million “for scholarships in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.” The school said “the grant will pay for at least 18 scholarships over five years for lower-income students pursuing bachelor degrees in computer science, chemistry and biological sciences.”
New York AG Sues ED For Pushing To Collect From Defrauded Corinthian Students.
The Jamestown (NY) Post-Journal (12/19) reports that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued ED and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “for unlawfully pursuing collection actions against federal student loan borrowers who were victimized by Corinthian College Inc.” The complaint, joined by the attorneys general of Illinois and Massachusetts, “also alleges the department has unlawfully delayed review of the thousands of pending loan discharge applications that have been submitted by defrauded students that were victimized by a variety of for-profit colleges.”
Fitch Ratings: HEA Overhaul Could Hurt Colleges’ Finances.
Politico Morning Education (12/19, Stratford) reports that according to a new report from Fitch Ratings, the House Higher Education Act reauthorization bill “could put more pressure on enrollment and revenue at traditional colleges and universities.” The piece quotes the report saying, “Key sources of funding for institutions of higher education — namely tuition and federal revenues — would decline” under the plan. Fitch’s report says “that the bill would increase the ‘competitive reach of for-profit colleges,’ which could ‘exacerbate existing enrollment pressures,’ especially at smaller, private nonprofit institutions.”
Graduate Students Gearing Up To Oppose GOP Efforts To Increase Financial Burden.
The New York Times (12/19, Green, Subscription Publication) reports that while graduate students may be “breathing a deep sigh of relief” because a “hefty tax increase” that House Republicans had sought did not survive to be included in the final GOP tax overhaul bill, there are concerns that congress could be planning other ways to increase grad students’ financial burden. The piece quotes National Association of Graduate-Professional Students Legislative Director Samantha Hernandez saying, “I’m relieved. But we’re not done. This is not over.” The Times reports that the tuition tax increase that got excised from the bill “is just one in a growing list of graduate school benefits that House Republicans have in their legislative sights. Next up is an extensive rewrite of the law governing the nation’s higher education system, and again, Republicans hope to drastically curtail or end revenue streams that graduate students rely on to pursue advanced degrees.”
Research and Development
Worcester Polytechnic Institute Researchers Using Optical Tweezers To Capture Cancer Cells In Bloodstream.
The Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette (12/19) reports a team of researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute has developed “a way to miniaturize a process through which beams of light could be used to capture cancer cells in the bloodstream. Such ‘optical tweezers’ have been known and used in mechanical engineering for decades, but WPI professor Yuxiang Liu and his fellow researchers say they have introduced a new approach – using optical fibers instead of a lens – that they believe could revolutionize the technology.”
Brown University Researchers Partner With Hasbro On AI Cat To Aid Seniors.
The AP (12/19) reports that the National Science Foundation has given a $1 million grant to a collaboration between toymaker Hasbro and Brown University researchers working to develop AI for a robotic “cat that can keep a person company, doesn’t need a litter box and can remind an aging relative to take her medicine or help find her eyeglasses.” The company’s “Joy for All” robotic cat, “which has been on the market for two years, is aimed at seniors and meant to act as a ‘companion.’” The partnership “is aimed at developing additional capabilities for the cats to help older adults with simple tasks.”
Artificial Intelligence Can Spot Large Pneumothoraces On Chest X-Ray, Researchers Find.
Aunt Minnie (12/20, Ridley) reports that researchers from Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University have found that artificial intelligence algorithms “can automatically detect large pneumothoraces on chest x-ray exams – potentially speeding up the detection and reporting of these critical findings,” according to research presented at the RSNA 2017 meeting in Chicago. The article says that “after training and testing six different deep-learning networks,” the researchers “found that an ensemble approach blending results from the six models yielded the highest level of performance – including 94% sensitivity – for identifying large pneumothoraces.” Presenter Dr. Paras Lakhani said, “More training cases and other deep-learning strategies may improve these results.”
San Luis Obispo Stakes Claim As Growing Tech Hub.
The New York Times (12/19, Leong, Subscription Publication) reports in 2001, Rick Stollmeyer, CEO of cloud-based business management firm MindBody, founded his company in San Luis Obispo, California, which “has a reputation for being a sleepy town in central California known for its laid-back charm.” Though the city had little in common with Silicon Valley, Stollmeyer “envisioned it as a bustling tech hub.” Stollmeyer says the tech community in the city is now on the rise, with over 7,800 tech workers employed there now, “an increase of more than 20 percent in the last five years, according to the California Center for Jobs and the Economy.”
BlackBerry Eyes Autonomous Vehicles As Major Part Of Future Strategy.
The Wall Street Journal (12/19, George-Cosh, McNish, Subscription Publication) reports BlackBerry seeks to become a provider of software for autonomous vehicles, putting it in competition with the likes of Apple and other tech giants. The QNX unit at BlackBerry will grow to around 1,000 engineers focused on making an autonomous platform and has already been part of BlackBerry’s partnerships with Ford, GM, and Aptiv. Since dropping out of the phone business, BlackBerry views autonomous technologies as a major growth opportunity, especially as its other software and enterprise services are starting to decelerate.
Engineering and Public Policy
High-Tech Workers Heading To Canada In Face Of US Immigration Restrictions.
The New York Times (12/19, Robbins, Subscription Publication) reports an article about the impact of the Trump administration’s immigration policies in repressing the influx of high-tech immigrant talent, and how in response “the Canadian tech industry is aggressively trying to woo foreign companies.” A founder of the start-up Datalogue, “which uses artificial intelligence to prepare and synthesize data for other businesses,” said that “skilled foreign workers crave the greater stability that he said immigrants have in Canada compared with the United States.” Describing pending changes to America’s H1-B visa program, the Times writes that “last week, the Department of Homeland Security published a set of proposed rule changes that would make the visas even harder to qualify for, to ensure that only ‘the best and brightest’ foreign workers were selected.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has been moving in the opposite direction, and “Canada’s immigration agency in June started the Global Skills Strategy for high-skilled workers from abroad to get a work permit in two weeks.”
Environmental Groups Sue Trump Administration Over Delaying Methane Rule.
Reuters (12/19, Gardner) reports that on Tuesday, a collection of “nearly 20 environmental and Native American tribal groups sued the Trump administration…challenging its delay of a rule limiting emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane from oil and gas drilling operations on federal lands.” This month, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management suspended the rule’s effective date for one year. However, some expect the Administration “to announce a new draft rule in coming weeks, in line with its policy of maximizing output of oil, gas and coal and dismantling regulations it says prevent job growth.”
Nebraska Commission Rejects TransCanada Request To Change Route For Keystone XL.
The Washington Times (12/19, Wolfgang) reports on Tuesday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission unanimously rejected “a request from TransCanada to reconsider the proposed path of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.” The commission has approved a path, but not “the one TransCanada prefers.” The Times adds that TransCanada is faced with “a decision of whether to scrap the project or move forward with the less-than-favorable path.”
Trump Administration To Face No Legal Action After Illegal Withholding Of Energy Research Funding.
The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (12/19, Crocker) reports the Trump administration will face no legal consequences despite a conclusion reached by a government oversight agency that the administration violated federal law when it withheld $91 in appropriated funds from a government energy research agency. The Department of Energy withheld the funds from the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy after a budget released by the White House called for ending funding to the agency. The Impoundment Control Act requires any funds appropriated by Congress to be dispersed by the executive branch. Following the government inquiry, the money was later released.
Report Finds Elevated Risk Of Low-Weight Births For Mothers Living Near Fracking Sites.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (12/19, Venteicher) reports a study published by Science Advances claims “babies born to mothers living within a kilometer of a drilling site – or nearly two-thirds of a mile – had about an 8 percent chance of having a low birth weight, while babies born to mothers living farther away had about a 6.5 percent chance.” The study suggests volatile airborne compounds were responsible for the low birth weights, but researchers have yet to determine what substances are found in the air near fracking sites. Marcellus Shale Coalition spokeswoman Erica Clayton said in response to the report, “We absolutely support rigorous, fact-based research and sound science. Unfortunately, this study’s methodology fails to account for a wide range of basic yet highly critical public health factors.”
Philadelphia High School’s CTE Programs Profiled.
The Philadelphia Tribune (12/19) reports on West Philadelphia High School’s career and technical education programs, which include “digital media production, architectural drafting and design, and computer systems networking.” Students who complete the CTE programs “can earn certifications that are accepted in the professional world.” WPHS career awareness specialist Diana Rodriguez said WPHS was “just recognized by the State Department of Education for our CTE programs” because they attract “the most nontraditional students.” In a “Learning Key” visit to the school, the Tribune observed “students from all CTE programs were working on various projects in the school’s new Makerspace” to prepare for computer science week. CTE instructor Marie Wilkens-Walker explained, “We’re focusing on the digital aspect of making, so through launching the Makerspace we will be able to invite others that are not in our CTE program to see what digital making is.” She discussed various initiatives, including the use of the Raspberry Pi handheld computer in robotics, coding, and 3-D imaging and printing projects.
Hawaii Educators Intensify Focus On CTE.
Honolulu Civil Beat (HI) (12/19) reports that in Hawaii, career and technical education “is front and center on many educators’ minds as they envision kids’ futures and what they’ll do next.” While the statewide graduation rate is 82 percent, only 55 percent of graduating high school students enroll in either a two- or four-year higher education institution, meaning hundreds of graduates who do not enter the military must enter the workforce. At least 43 public high schools in Hawaii offer “CTE, known more colloquially as ‘electives,’” through “six ‘pathways’: health services, arts and communication, business, health, industrial and engineering technology and natural resources.” This year, the state received $5.5 million in federal funds under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which helped CTE classes reach approximately 38,000 students across the state. Notably, 82 percent of students in the graduating class of 2014 received their diplomas, compared to 99 percent of “so-called CTE concentrators.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Japanese Researchers Develop Glass That Mends With Hand Pressure.
• Observers Watching ED’s Changes To Higher Education Policy.
• Study On Water Repellency Could Prevent Ice From Accumulating On Windshields, Roads, And Sidewalks.
• California Alters Autonomous Vehicle Rules Again.
• US High Schools Need To Train Students In Discrete Math, Electronics Education.