|Good morning || November 4, 2019|
Leading the News
Boeing To Conduct Abort Test Of Starliner Crew Capsule
Aerospace America (11/1, Hofacker) reported that The Boeing Company on Monday will test the CST-100 Starliner crew capsule at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Boeing “will fire the four launch abort engines, or LAEs, and 12 smaller orbital maneuvering and altitude control, or OMAC, thrusters in the base of the service module to propel the capsule off the pad.” The test plans call for “the test dummy and capsule” to “fall back to Earth softly under parachutes, with its sensors recording survivable G forces.” In remarks last month at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C., Boeing Starliner Crew and Mission Systems Director Chris Ferguson said, “A lot of everything that we’ve been working on for the last eight years or so [is] all wrapped up in about a 90-second test, so it’ll be pretty exciting.”
Florida Today (11/1, Joy) reports that “the main goal is to demonstrate Starliner’s ability to pull away quickly from the rocket in case of an emergency during launch.” Boeing Communication Manager Rebecca Regan said, “It’s a really exciting moment for the team but in parallel with that it’s a really serious test.”
Spaceflight Now (11/4) reports that “the capsule will not be flying any astronauts Monday when it launches off a pad at White Sands on a fast-paced test flight that will last just 95 seconds from liftoff until landing.”
Florida Today (11/1) provides an animated model of the test as part of its coverage.
Michigan’s “Manufacturing Day” Helps Students, Employers
The AP (11/3) reports on Michigan’s “Manufacturing Day,” which seeks to introduce students to careers in manufacturing. The AP writes, “Although the day is held annually on the first Friday of October, schools and businesses throughout...Michigan worked together so high school students could visit manufacturers throughout the month, the Port Huron Times Herald reported.” Manufacturing Day events help employers locate new talent and also introduce students to a wide array of manufacturing careers.
Bradley University Opens New $100 Million Business, Engineering Building
The AP (11/3) reports Bradley University officials “are marking the first phase of a $100 million new business and engineering building.” The (Peoria) Journal Star “reports university officials dedicated the building in a Friday ceremony.” The new building “will have 200 offices, dozens of classrooms and over 40 specialized labs.”
DeVos Announces New Accreditation, State Oversight Rules
Diverse Issues in Higher Education (11/1) reports Education Secretary DeVos on Thursday “announced the finalized rule for accreditation and state authorization on Thursday. The new regulations will go into effect on July 1, 2020.” The piece quotes DeVos saying, “We ended the stranglehold that a system designed when people traveled by horse and buggy continued to have on institutions. Accreditation has played a role in the bloat that has taken place in higher education administration, and it is time to right size bureaucracy and allow institutions to redirect their resources to students and teaching.” The new rules loosen “Department of Education oversight of accreditors and accreditors’ oversight of institutions. It also makes it so that states that join a reciprocity agreement can’t enforce individual state laws governing online higher education programs.”
House Democrats Threaten DeVos With Subpoena Over Corinthian Student Debt Relief
The Washington Post (11/1, Douglas-Gabriel) reports House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott “is threatening to subpoena Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to testify about the Education Department’s handling of debt relief claims from former Corinthian Colleges students.” On Friday, Scott wrote to DeVos to say that ED’s “offer to brief the committee in lieu of her public testimony was insufficient. The department previously informed Scott that DeVos would not appear because of ongoing litigation involving Corinthian students, a position the chairman says has no merit.” ED “said it received and is reviewing Scott’s letter.”
U.S. News & World Report (11/1) reports that the committee “will consider whether to subpoena Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos this month if she refuses to testify...regarding the continued collection of student loan debt from borrowers defrauded by for-profit Corinthian Colleges who are now suing DeVos over the matter.” Friday’s letter “marks the second time Scott has threatened to use his subpoena powers in the last two weeks, both in relation to the secretary’s and Education Department officials’ involvement in for-profit colleges.”
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Former ASEE Member Wins Nobel
ASEE is happy to claim Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough as a former member, proof that educators and researchers find value in being an ASEE member.
Research and Development
More New York City Special Needs Students Face Delays In Evaluations
Chalkbeat (11/1) reports a new report from the New York City Department of Education finds that “more public school students experienced delays in getting evaluated for special education services last year – in violation of federal timelines. ... Schools failed to meet the 60-day timeline for evaluating students for additional supports or smaller classroom settings in roughly 30% of the cases in the 2018-19 school year – up about 2% from the year prior.”
NASA To Explore Utilizing Lunar Water For Fuel, Life Support
Forbes (11/2, Carter) reports that the existence of water on the moon is “great news for a future moon-base, but it’s also often talked-up as a resource for creating rocket fuel. Last week NASA announced that it would send a mobile robot, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon to find the exact location and concentration of water ice in the region. ‘The key to living on the Moon is water – the same as here on Earth,’ said Daniel Andrews, project manager of the VIPER mission and director of engineering at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. ‘Since the confirmation of lunar water-ice ten years ago, the question now is if the Moon could really contain the amount of resources we need to live off-world.’”
Analysis: Researchers Developing Wide-Range Of New GPS Applications
A long-form article for the Scientific American (10/30, Witze, Magazine) provides a broad overview of new ways in which GPS technology is being used as researchers “are discovering that GPS can tell them far more about the planet than they originally thought it could.” Over the past decade, “faster and more accurate GPS devices have allowed scientists to illuminate how the ground moves during big earthquakes,” and GPS “has led to better warning systems for natural disasters such as flash floods and volcanic eruptions.” Scientific American said researchers “have even MacGyvered some GPS receivers into acting as snow sensors, tide gauges and other unexpected tools for measuring Earth.”
Raven Industries Buys DOT, Smart Ag In Move To Develop Precision Ag
Future Farming (11/4) reports that Raven Industries has acquired DOT and Smart Ag, deals that are “part of Raven’s strategy to deliver autonomous solutions for agriculture.” The article explains that the two companies “began working together in May 2018, when Raven announced the Dot Platform would be outfitted with Raven technology, including steering, guidance and propulsion.” Following the deal, the companies “aim to accelerate the development of precision agriculture technology from semi-autonomous to fully-autonomous solutions.”
Waymo Offers Fully Autonomous Rides To Select Early Users In Phoenix
Reuters (11/1) reported Waymo “has begun offering fully automated rides, without attendants in the vehicle, to a few hundred early users of its robo-taxi service in Phoenix.” Waymo CEO John Krafcik confirmed the news this past week but “did not say when or how quickly Waymo would expand ‘rider-only’ services,” adding that the selected early riders signed non-disclosure agreements. Besides autonomous ride-sharing, Waymo is also testing autonomous Peterbilt trucks and wants “to expand trucking and commercial delivery applications of its technology as part of a project known internally as ‘Husky.’” Waymo is also working “to develop self-driving vehicles and services with Renault SA and its Japanese partner Nissan Motor Co, and has deals to use minivans made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Jaguar iPace sport utility vehicles in its robo-taxi fleets,” the story adds.
The Los Angeles Times (11/1, Mitchell) reported Waymo also “wants to deploy a robotaxi service for the general public in parts of California as soon as possible,” but under temporary rules established last year by the California Public Utilities Commission, autonomous robotaxi services cannot charge fares. According to the story, this “free-or-nothing mandate makes no sense to Waymo, the driverless vehicle arm of Google’s Alphabet, or to other driverless vehicle start-ups hoping to establish themselves in a new industry that could produce the biggest change in ground transportation since the invention of the automobile.” Waymo chief of policy development and regulatory initiatives George Ivanov says the company needs a “commercial path forward” before offering autonomous taxi service like that in the Phoenix area.
Researchers Create 3D-Printed Skin With Blood Vessels In Hopes Of Preventing Body From Rejecting Grafted Tissue
Newsweek (11/4, Gander) reports that a team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and Yale School of Medicine “have created 3D-printed skin complete with blood vessels, in an advancement which they hope could one day prevent the body rejecting grafted tissue.” Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Director Deepak Vashishth said in a statement, “This significant development highlights the vast potential of 3D bioprinting in precision medicine, where solutions can be tailored to specific situations and eventually to individuals.” The findings were published in the journal Tissue Engineering Part A.
Researchers Use AI To Deconstruct How Music Influences Emotions
MIT Technology Review (11/1, Hao) reports researchers at the University of Southern California recently published a paper (10/25) in which they described how AI technology can deconstruct why music influences people’s emotions. Throughout their research, the scientists “mapped out how things like pitch, rhythm, and harmony induce different types of brain activity, physiological reactions (heat, sweat, and changes in electrical response), and emotions (happiness or sadness), and how machine learning could use those relationships to predict how people might respond to a new piece of music.” Presented at a conference last week, the results demonstrate “how we may one day be able to engineer targeted musical experiences for purposes ranging from therapy to movies.” The researchers fed data “along with 74 features for each song (such as its pitch, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, and timbre), into several machine-learning algorithms and examined which features were the strongest predictors of responses.”
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Dubai Hosts Largest-Ever International Robotics Competition
The Washington Post (11/1, Heller) reported that the country of Dubai – which is “seeking to bolster its image as a forward-looking metropolis” – has “hosted the largest-ever international robotics contest this week, challenging young people from 190 countries to find solutions to global ocean pollution.” Event organizers “say their selection of Dubai as host reflects a vote of confidence that this oil-rich Emirati sheikhdom can be a global hub for innovation.” Organizers “also expressed hope that bringing together tomorrow’s scientists and engineers will help develop technologies to solve the world’s most pressing issues, particularly those related to the environment.” The Post wrote, “The unofficial ‘Robotics Olympics’ seeks to encourage young people to pursue [STEM subjects.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Airlines Look For Ways To Prove Safety Of 737 MAX
The Wall Street Journal (11/3, Pasztor, Sider, Subscription Publication) reports that as airlines prepare for the return of the Boeing 737 MAX, they are looking for ways to demonstrate the safety of the jet to a concerned public. Southwest Airlines and United Airlines plan to conduct hundreds of flights before the jet returns to passenger service, and American Airlines is planning to have executives, media, and corporate clients fly on the jet to assure the public that the problems with the 737 MAX have been fixed. The Journal reports surveys have found that the public remains concerned about the jet, but Southwest President Tom Nealon said fewer than one percent of customers actually check what model of aircraft they will be flying on.
Prosecutors Likely To Face Difficulty In Charging Boeing Over 737 MAX. The Wall Street Journal (11/3, Tangel, Gershman, Pasztor, Subscription Publication) reports that prosecutors may face challenges in bringing charges as a result of the Department of Justice’s probe into the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX , as prosecutors would have to prove that executives lied about the jet. The Journal adds that Boeing is an important defense contractor and also carries significant economic importance, so significant sanctions on the manufacturer could carry consequences for the country.
FHWA Estimates Updating US Highway System Would Cost At Least $836 Billion
Radio (11/3, Burns) reports on the infrastructure crisis in the US, saying it “should come as no surprise to anyone who has traveled any of the roadways that snake across the New York area” that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s infrastructure “a ‘D’ rating in the most recent infrastructure report card.” The story says that “maintaining the roads is not a cheap proposition,” with FHWA putting “the cost of updating the nation’s highway capital infrastructure” at “over $836 billion,” which “is more than the entire Defense Department budget this year (estimated at $750 billion) and more than three times the total budgets for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut combined.” The story also reports on funding proposals for investing in the nation’s highways.
Esports Program Introduces Girls To STEAM Careers
The AP (11/2) reported on a “new program “called “Battle Born Girls Innovate,” which is “hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute.” The program “focuses on girls in Title 1 schools where at least 85% of the population is enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program.” Administrators “say the Battle Born Girls program aims to provide experiences and draw attention to careers like esports” and “to get girls excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”
Maryland Middle-Schoolers Participate In Statewide STEM Festival
The AP (11/2, FITZPATRICK, Herald-Mail) reported on Williamsport, Maryland’s Springfield Middle School participation in “the statewide Maryland STEM Festival running from Oct. 11 to Nov. 10.” Springfield Middle students from all grades “were required to design and build a bridge capable of holding between three and 23 portioned bags of rice, make a 5-inch tall hut with a workable door that wouldn’t be blown away by a leaf blower and craft a vessel capable of floating and staying waterproof enough to protect its ‘message in a bottle.’” The AP said, “Science teachers Ace Schwarz and Danielle Black organized the ‘Great Desert Island Escape,’ designing the challenges over the summer,” and “students had two class periods to come up with and craft their projects.”
California STEM Program Encourages Forestry Education Amid Ongoing Fires
EdSource (11/1) reported on California’s “Forestry Challenge,” a statewide competition and program “that aims to train students in technical forest skills and management.” EdSouce said California “has adopted new academic standards in math and science to help grow the number of students prepared for [STEM] careers,” including in “California’s forestry and natural resources industries,” which “are in need of a larger and more diverse pool of qualified applicants.” EdSource said, “The need for sustainable forest management is ever-present as fires rage across California this fall.”
Analysis: Florida’s “Climate Education” Is Inadequate
The Bradenton (FL) Herald (11/2, Sabella) wrote, “More than a dozen states have made climate change a focal point of their science curriculum,” but in Florida, “a state threatened by intense hurricanes and coastal flooding, elements of the conversation are scarce or nonexistent in the classroom.” The Herald said that in Florida, “climate education” is “perceived and executed differently in each school district.” The article featured interviews with Florida educators who criticize state standards for climate education, arguing that they do not place enough emphasis on “the human-caused elements of climate change.”
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Friday's Lead Stories
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