|Good morning || November 25, 2019|
Leading the News
Tesla Among Six Automakers Working On Electric Trucks
Reuters (11/22) reported Tesla joined “a list of automakers and start-ups that have been working on electrifying pickup trucks – the heart of the Detroit automakers’ profits.” GM’s “first electric pickup truck model will go on sale in the fall of 2021, the company’s top executive said on Thursday” without giving further details. Ford “is designing electric pickup trucks based on the F-series and plans to invest $11.5 billion to electrify its vehicles by 2022, including 16 fully electric models.” Rivian “is working on an all-electric pickup truck ‘R1T’ with up to 750 horsepower,” a range of more than 400 miles, “a towing capacity of 11,000 lbs,” and “a starting price of $69,000. The model is due in fall 2020.” Bollinger Motors “is working on its all-electric pickup truck “Bollinger B2” that will have a 614 horsepower engine and a full aluminum body. The Verge reported last month that the vehicle will have a starting price of $125,000.” Finally, Atlis Motor Vehicles’ “Atlis XT” electric truck, “which the company says will charge in 15 minutes,” will “start from $45,000 and is expected to roll out in 2020.”
Using Tesla’s unveiling of its Cybertruck as a jumping-off point, Barron’s (11/22, Hough) examined the risks to automotive stocks as companies reveal “a parade of electric-vehicle entrants.” GM also said on Thursday that it would have “an all-electric pickup on sale by fall 2021,” while Ford had “previously announced an electric F-150” that would launch nearly the same time. Additionally, the start-up Rivian, “whose investors include Amazon.com and Ford, plans to begin production on an electric pickup next year.” Not only will these EVs be competing against each other, but also against their gasoline-fueled counterparts. Thus, argues the piece, investors should sit it out and see how electric-vehicles disrupt the industry before investing.
CEO: Tesla Already Has 146,000 Orders For ‘Cybertruck.’ Reuters (11/23) reports Tesla CEO “Elon Musk said on Saturday that there have been about 150,000 orders thus far for the electric carmaker’s Cybertruck, which was unveiled late on Thursday.” According to the AP (11/23), the truck received “mixed reviews” when it was first introduced, but Musk “tweeted Saturday that the company received 146,000 orders for the wedge-shaped ‘Cybertruck’ since is unveiling Thursday night.” Musk also “said 17% of the orders are for the single-motor model, 42% are for the dual-motor version and 41% are for the tri-motor model.” USA Today (11/24, Brown) reports, “The demand comes despite the futuristic truck receiving ‘no advertising & no paid endorsement,’ Musk tweeted.”
Mashable (11/24, Rosenberg) mentions, “Reserving a Cybertruck requires a $100 refundable deposit. The vehicles won’t be available until late 2021, so who can really say how many of those deposits will convert to purchases when all is said and done?” Regardless, “146,000 worth of $100 deposits means Tesla raked in $14.6 million in less than 24 hours. Those deposits are refundable, sure, but if all you want to know at this point is if people are interested in the weird-looking vehicle, it’s safe to say they are.”
University Of Delaware Announces Plans For New $38 Million FinTech Building
The Newark (MD) Post (11/21, Shannon) reports that on Thursday the University of Delaware “announced plans for the newest addition to the growing STAR Campus – a $38 million financial services technology building.” The Post says, “The six-story, 100,000-square-foot building is a partnership between UD, Delaware Technology Park and Discover Bank.” Delaware Technology Park “will own the building” and will fund it “with a below-market-rate loan from Discover,” and the University of Delaware “will lease space in the building once its completed in 2021.” UD officials “said the new building will foster collaborations between students and companies in the growing field of financial services technology, often referred to as FinTech.” Also reporting are the Philadelphia Business Journal (11/21, Subscription Publication), WDEL-AM Wilmington (DE) Wilmington, DE (11/21, Fowser), Delaware Business Now (11/18, Now), and the Delaware Business Times (11/21).
ED To Resume Loan Forgiveness For Disabled Veterans
The Washington Post (11/22, Douglas-Gabriel) reports, “President Trump in August granted veterans who are severely disabled automatic federal student loan forgiveness,” but “after an initial rollout, the program was placed on hiatus because of the administration’s failure to properly execute the initiative.” ED “said it processed 3,300 claims following the president’s executive order but had to stop two months later after learning regulations governing the program needed to be updated.” ED’s proposed new rule “received approval from the Office of Management and Budget late Thursday, allowing the agency to resume its efforts Friday. The bureaucratic misstep, first reported by Politico, has cast a pall over an initiative the White House heralded as a tremendous achievement.”
CBS News (11/22) reports ED “said Friday it has resumed forgiving federal student loan debt for tens of thousands of severely disabled veterans after suspending the relief for a month.” In October, ED “halted the loan discharges for more than 20,000 veterans who are permanently disabled” because of “bureaucracy.” An ED spokesperson “said the agency was waiting for clearance from the White House Office of Management and Budget to carry on with the loan forgiveness. OMB gave the green light on Friday morning.” Forbes (11/23, Friedman) contributor Zack Friedman also reports on this story.
Buttigieg Releases Workforce Development Plan
The Keene (NH) Sentinel (11/22, Staff) reports South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg “is homing in on workforce development with a new plan he released this week.” Buttigieg “is looking to reduce student debt and boost non-college professional training programs nationwide, with his campaign pointing out particular benefits to young people in New Hampshire. Buttigieg’s plan would offer free public college tuition to any family earning under $100,000 per year, with those earning between $100,000 and $150,000 getting reduced public tuition on a sliding scale.”
Kansas Colleges Revamp Gen-Ed Requirements
The AP (11/23) reports that Kansas universities “are reducing general education requirements to ensure more students can graduate on time and create more room for classes in their majors.” The AP says Wichita State University “became the latest school to slash the numbers of general ed classes their undergraduates are required to take.” Instead, schools “are hoping students can learn skills such as ethical reasoning from an engineering course by scrapping philosophy and history requirements in favor of specific goals.” The AP says that in 2012, “Kansas State overhauled its general education program” and “the University of Kansas made a similar change a year later.”
US Students Increasingly Heading Overseas For College
CNBC (11/23, Dickler) reports that “about 50,000 U.S. students are currently pursuing full degrees abroad,” and “a little more than half of them studying in the U.K. and Canada, according to data from the Institute of International Education.” CNBC says cost is the main driving force, as “colleges in France and Switzerland, for example, offer low tuition and, as a result, only a small percentage of students graduate with loans” while students in countries like Germany “can attend university entirely free of charge.” CNBC says the savings potential “is no small thing considering how much the expense of a degree weighs on [US] families,” as college education “becomes increasingly important for those aiming to get ahead in today’s economy.”
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Under a previous headline, "ASEE Members Honored with Presidental Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring," we omitted two members. Howard Kimmel is at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is a Life Member of ASEE, and has won numerous awards for his work in engineering education. Amy Freeman is Director of Penn State's Millennium Scholars Program, is a Past-President of WEPAN, and has won multiple awards for her work in expanding access to education. Congratulations to them both.
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Research and Development
Astronomers Concerned About SpaceX Starlink Satellites
Forbes (11/24, Carter) reports that though “only 122 of a planned total of 42,000 broadband internet satellites” planned by SpaceX are “in orbit so far, astronomers are now gravely concerned about the mega-constellation’s effect on the US$466 million Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), one of the world’s most new important telescopes currently being built on the Cerro Pachón ridge in Chile’s Elqui Valley.” The planned Starlink array, astronomers say, is a threat to the LSST’s mission to “survey the entire visible sky in just three nights, effectively producing a motion picture of our Universe. ... Crucially, the LSST will also catalog 90 percent of near-Earth objects larger than 300m and calculate if they are a threat to Earth.”
FedEx SameDay Delivery Bots Visit Manhattan
The New York Post (11/24, Salo) reports a bunch “of FedEx delivery robots rolled around lower Manhattan as part of a promotion last week, prompting bewildered pedestrians to share videos of the jarring sight on social media.” Twitter user @WhatIsNY wrote: “Wall-E out here flexing all over FedEx delivery drivers,” sharing a video of FedEx’s SameDay Bot “cutting through a group crossing Crosby Street near Houston Street.” FedEx “said Sunday that its SameDay Bots – also known as Roxos – were only visiting the Big Apple and are still undergoing testing in other markets.” FedEx said in a statement, “FedEx is not currently testing its SameDay Delivery Bot, Roxo, in New York City. ... The Bot was visiting New York for a special event. Future testing plans are not yet determined.” The promotion sparked some concerns from locals, but FedEx responded, “As with any new technology from FedEx, Roxo will undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety in collaboration with regulatory authorities in test markets. ... We believe autonomous technology can help supplement operational and service efficiency for our customers and our team members, and even help to create new job opportunities.”
Army Testing Conversions To Unmanned Vehicles
Popular Mechanics (11/23, Mizokami) reported, “The U.S. Army has developed a standard set of hardware and software that, once installed in a human-vehicle, allows the vehicle to be operated remotely or even in a semi-autonomous fashion.” The Army is seeking to create “unmanned fighting vehicles that can operate along manned fighting vehicles, and convoys of unmanned vehicles that can travel routes autonomously or following the lead of a human driver.” The technology to convert manned vehicles to unmanned ones has been tested “on more than 20 different vehicles, from Humvees to aging M113 armored personnel carriers.”
Honeywell Invests In, Partners With Daedalean.ai On “Fully Autonomous AI Pilot”
Aviation Today (11/22, Garrett) reported “Honeywell has invested in and signed a technological partnership with Swiss startup Daedalean.ai to develop systems for autonomous takeoff and landing, GPS-independent navigation and collision avoidance for general aviation (GA) and electrical VTOL aircraft” in order to “secure its position as a supplier of navigation, flight controls and other avionics” in the VTOL space. According to a joint press release, the two firms are working “towards the development of a fully autonomous AI pilot for [GA and UAM].”
Researchers Develop Technique To Launch Drones From Moving Vehicles
Popular Mechanics (11/24, Mizokami) reports, “A team of researchers from Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab have settled on a novel way to launch drones in a hurry: shoot them into the air with a baseball pitching machine.” This technique could allow quadcopter-style drones to launch quickly “from moving vehicles,” without requiring them to stop and a person to exit the vehicle, as currently needed. “The system can eject drones from vehicles traveling as fast as 50 miles an hour.”
Amazon Continues Secret Drone Tests At UK Test Site
The Daily Mail (UK) (11/22, Randall) reports Amazon continues “to ‘secretly’ test the capability of its Prime Air delivery drones at their proving ground in the UK countryside” near Cambridge.
Boeing Unveils 737 MAX 10, First Flight Planned For 2020
Aviation Week (11/22) reported that The Boeing Company “rolled out the 737 MAX 10 at an employee-only event in Renton, Washington Nov. 21, a significant step in its effort to slow the Airbus A321neo’s momentum.” The aircraft “is 64-in. longer than the MAX 9, giving the aircraft a two-class capacity of 188-204 passengers, depending on configurations.” The plane is set “to conduct its first flight in 2020.”
CNBC (11/22, Josephs) reported that “Boeing has more than 550 orders for the [MAX] 10, the largest variant, making it a small portion of the backlog of around 4,400 [MAX] jetliners.”
Aviation International News (11/22) reported that “the focus of official speeches seemed to be largely on employees assigned to the narrowbody jet program” as part of “what some on social media said was a muted ceremony compared with past Boeing airplane debuts.” Boeing General Manager 737 Program Mark Jenks said, “Today is not just about a new airplane; it’s about the people who design, build, and support it.” He added, “This team’s relentless focus on safety and quality shows the commitment we have to our airline customers and every person who flies on a Boeing airplane.” At the rollout, 737 Chief Pilot Jennifer Henderson said, “I’m honored to take this airplane on its first flight and show the world what you’ve put your heart and soul into.”
Fortune (11/22) reported that the MAX “10 rollout could be the last for the 737 family, which began in 1965.” Aerospace analyst George Hamlin said, “They’ve brought the 737 about as far as they can.”
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Engineering and Public Policy
Canadian Official Advocated For Removal Of MCAS From 737 MAX
The New York Times (11/22, Kitroeff, Gelles) reported that “a manager at Canada’s aviation regulator believes that Boeing should remove software that played a role in two deadly crashes of its 737 [MAX] before the plane is cleared to fly again, according to emails between global aviation regulators this week.” Transport Canada Civil Aviation Manager in Aircraft Integration and Safety Assessment Jim Marko wrote in the email, “The only way I see moving forward at this point, is that MCAS has to go.” In a statement, Transport Canada Director General Nicholas Robinson said, “The email reflects working-level discussions between highly trained aircraft certification experts of key aviation authorities who have been given wide latitude for assessing all issues.”
The Seattle Times (11/22) reported that Marko “was referring to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the new flight-control software on the MAX that repeatedly pitched down the aircraft in the fatal accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia.” Marko “sent his email...to counterparts at the” FAA, EASA, “and Brazilian air safety regulator Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil.”
Reuters (11/22, Lampert, Shepardson) reported that “a senior industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity said removing MCAS from the 737 MAX would present only a ‘minor’ risk, but doing so would not be tolerated under the strict rules regulating the aviation industry.”
Aircraft Parts Suppliers Prepare For Extended Grounding Of 737 MAX. Reuters (11/22, Ajmera) reported that aircraft parts manufacturers “are making contingency plans for a prolonged grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX, with several expecting the jet’s return to service to take longer than the planemaker hopes.” An unnamed supplier for a MAX component “said he had halted production and was replacing lost sales by focusing on replacements for older models, based on the possibility that the grounding could last beyond March.” The supplier asserted, “If you look back at what happened for the last nine months, I don’t think Boeing gained points in terms of trust.” Another source, “an executive with a maker of parts for cabin interiors,” said, “Some airlines are telling us that the airplane won’t be back before next summer.” The executive “add[ed] that he had re-allocated some production capacity to Airbus parts.”
Delta Air Lines CEO Expresses Support For 737 MAX Certification Process. CBS News (11/22) reported that Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian “said he would consider flying the revamped Boeing 737” MAX. Bastian said in remarks on CBS This Morning, “Obviously it needs to continue to go through the certification process.” Bastian added, “The FAA makes that decision. And once the regulators get comfortable with it... total faith.”
More Than A Dozen US Utilities Targeted In Cyberattacks Identified
The Wall Street Journal (11/24, Smith, Barry, Subscription Publication) reports that it has identified more than a dozen US utilities that were targets in a recent wave of cyberattacks. According to the Journal, most of the utilities are relatively small and some are located near dams and other critical infrastructure. The FBI is reportedly probing the attacks and has contacted some of the utilities.
Vermont Students Pursue Patent For Maple Syrup Tech
The AP (11/23) reports that some Vermont high-school students “are seeking a patent for an invention that they think will help the maple syrup industry.” The invention “measures sap flow” and “was created by technical education students at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, according to Mynbc5.com.” The Lemelson-MIT Program “awarded the students a $10,000 grant to further refine the invention.”
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