|Good morning || February 11, 2020|
Leading the News
Proposed White House Budget Slashes Education Spending
The Washington Post (2/10, Meckler, Douglas-Gabriel) reports the White House put forward a budget plan on Monday that “offers tax breaks for private school tuition” and cuts “billions of dollars from the student loan program without pitching any significant new initiatives.” Overall, the budget would reduce the Education Department’s “discretionary spending by 7.8 percent, reducing and consolidating programs across the agency. Funding for 29 education programs, including more than $24 billion in spending, would be replaced with a single block-grant program to states totaling just over $19 billion.” Furthermore, this new system “would allow states to set their own priorities and would reduce the federal role in education, a longtime goal of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.” The $66.6 billion budget request for the ED represents “a $5.6 billion cut from enacted levels,” Politico ’s (2/10, Gaudiano) “Morning Education” newsletter adds.
CNBC (2/10, Nova) reports on its website that “student loan spending would be cut by $170 billion,” and would “nix the popular, if challenged, public service loan forgiveness program... [that] allows not-for-profit and government employees to have their federal student loans canceled after 10 years of on-time payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that up to one-quarter of American workers are eligible.” The Administration unsuccessfully proposed eliminating the loan forgiveness program in last year’s fiscal budget, The Hill (2/10, Bowden) adds.
The Washington Times (2/10, Vondracek) reports Education Assistant Secretary Scott Stump said the budget includes up to $2.1 billion “for grants and program that will answer Secretary Betsy DeVos’ call to ‘rethink’ worker training by starting vocational development at younger ages.” Stump “defended an ambitious plan to build welding simulators or medical training simulators to encourage students to pursue careers that pay well and don’t require college degrees or rack up crippling debt.” DeVos told education groups in a briefing that the budget proposal includes “maybe the largest investment in CTE, ever,” the AP (2/10) reports.
Additional coverage provided by Chalkbeat (2/10, Barnum, Belsha), U.S. News & World Report (2/10, Camera), Education Week (2/10, Ujifusa), Inside Higher Ed (2/11), The Seventy Four (2/10, Keierleber) and Forbes (2/10, Whistle).
State Farm Partners With Arizona State University On Scholarship Initiative
KTAR-FM Glendale, AZ (2/6) reports State Farm has “given Arizona State University a $30 million gift for a scholarship program aimed at high school and community college students.” The Pathways for the Future program will “help people who need to update their skills and prepare them for potentially attending the university.” Scholarship program participants “will have the opportunity to earn credits in STEM, business leadership, and humanities and social science areas.” The program also prepares “students for some of ASU’s specialized schools, notably the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the W.P. Carey School of Business.”
State Farm and ASU both provided press releases.
Presidents Of Arizona Universities Discuss New Economy Initiative
KJZZ-FM Phoenix (2/7, Jenkins) reports Arizona State University President Michael Crow joined Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng and University of Arizona President Robert Robbins in discussing the “role of higher education in workforce development at a Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday.” Crow said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has tasked the universities with helping the state’s economy grow and adapt through new innovations. Crow said, “All technologies will be replaced. All things are moving to higher and higher levels of computational systems, informational systems – all new knowledge-based things.” At the event, Crow also “announced the university will be building the largest engineering school in the world, combining the current Fulton schools of engineering into one school.”
ASU President Advocates For Investing Wisely To Achieve Tech Breakthroughs. In an opinion piece for the Arizona Capitol Times (2/6, Opinion), Arizona State University President Michael Crow wrote that ASU “has been pursuing strategies relative to the opportunities associated” with the trend that “tech industries find they are most productive when they have resources clustered, allowing for the rapid spread of new ideas and a concentrated talent pool.” According to Crow, the university is “making investments and creating partnerships with co-investors to build the Fulton Schools of Engineering. These partnerships capitalize on opportunities that leverage Fulton’s unique assets for future technology breakthroughs and have yielded significant progress in diverse areas that include additive manufacturing, solar energy, wearable technologies and blockchain, among others.” Crow says the recent special investment request for $46 million from the Arizona Board of Regents “builds on what ASU is already doing and means Arizona can create a top-tier, concentrated environment of technology and talent right here in greater Phoenix that will give the state a key strategic economic development asset for the future.”
Opinion: New York Needs More Investment In Engineering Education To Fight Climate Change
In an opinion piece for Newsday (NY) (2/9), Fotis Sotiropoulos, distinguished professor and dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University, points out “New York ranks 44th in the growth of graduates earning engineering degrees,” which is “not a sufficient level of performance to meet the needs of the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and other technological challenges.” Additionally, today’s students are being “taught in aging facilities that are not designed to support the educational paradigms of the future to stay aligned with rapidly shifting industry needs.” The lack of investment in this area forces universities to “turn away highly qualified engineering applicants due to both lack of space and antiquated buildings and labs that are ill-equipped for research into such areas as artificial intelligence, offshore wind energy, solar power,” and more. Sotiropoulos promotes Stony Brook University’s planned engineering facility, which will “advance research in artificial intelligence and the technologies that will help us win the fight against climate pollution.”
ASEE's Curtis W. McGraw Research Awards Announced
ASEE announces the 2020 prestigious Curtis W. McGraw Research Awards: Prof. Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong from New York Institute of Technology is recognized in the non-PhD program category and Prof. Fengqi You from Cornell University is recogninzed in the PhD-granting program category. The awards will be presented at the ASEE Engineering Research Council’s (ERC) Research Leadership Institute, March 9-11, 2020 in Arlington, VA.
Two ASEE Members Elected to NAE
Reggie DesRoches of Rice and Jayathi Murthy of UCLA are among the members of the National Academy of Engineering's 2020 class. Congratulations to these leaders in engineering education.
New ASEE Publication on Diversity in STEM
ASEE, with funding from the National Science Foundation, released a publication on the NSF GOLD program, seeking to diversify the Geosciences. The publication features five GOLD projects, with a deep look at two in particular. Lessons learned from these initiatives are applicable to engineering and all STEM disciplines.
Research and Development
ASU Bioengineer Uses Updated Gene Editing Tool To Address Alzheimer’s
Science Blog (2/3) reported the first human clinical trials using the gene editing tool CRISPR “have begun in the hopes of curing diseases by taking damaged cells out of patient and repairing and replacing them.” Yet CRISPR can have “significant safety limitations” that frustrate “scientists such as Arizona State University’s David Brafman, a cell bioengineer,” who hopes to “use gene editing to get at the heart of the causes of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.” Brafman is now using an “update to the CRISPR base editing technology originally developed in the lab of David Liu at Harvard” that has “vastly outperformed previous efforts by making highly accurate, single-DNA base editing with an efficiency of up to 90% of human stem cells.” His lab has “developed a new TREE (Transient Reporter for Editing Enrichment) method, which allows for bulk enrichment of DNA base-edited cell populations – and for the first time, high efficiency in human stem cell lines.”
South Carolina Professor Investigating Transmission Of Wuhan Coronavirus
WLTX-TV Columbia, SC (2/6, Neaves) reports on its website that “professors at the University of South Carolina are teaming up to better understand” the Wuhan coronavirus. Dr. Shamia Hoque, an Assistant Professor and Environmental Engineer at USC, “is partnering with other researchers to create simulation models to figure out how the Coronavirus travels.” She is specifically “investigating how we can better design every day places like train stations, hospitals and airports to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.” Hoque is interested in knowing “how the disease moves around and what we can do to stop it in its tracks so more people aren’t exposed.” She said, “If someone leaves the airport, enters the train then gets home, and he or she is not detected, what happened when he or she was on the train? If it was released, where did it go? How did it travel?”
Pulsar Fusion Tests Miniature Prototype Of Rocket Engine It Claims Could Halve Travel Time To Mars
The Daily Mail (UK) (2/10, Pinkstone) reports that UK company Pulsar Fusion “has built a prototype rocket engine that it claims could halve the journey time between Earth and Mars.” Pulsar Fusion conducted a test of a “miniature prototype engine” which “shot the propellant gas argon through a 12-inch wide nozzle at a top speed of 56,000mph for around two-and-a-half minutes.” Should the engine be “scaled to full-size, it could reach 100,000mph – more than double the maximum exhaust speed of 40,000mph achievable by current rockets using traditional propulsion methods – according to” Pulsar Fusion. Pulsar Fusion CEO Richard Dinan “claims that using traditional engines to reach orbit and then switching to the new argon ion-powered thrusters could slash the time it takes for spacecraft to reach Mars in half.”
Voyager 2 Resumes Operations
CNN (2/6, Strickland) reported that NASA engineers were able to revive the Voyager 2 spacecraft following a January 25 incident in which the spacecraft failed to conduct a scheduled maneuver. The failure “triggered the spacecraft’s fault protection software routine, which responds if it senses that Voyager 2 is consuming too much energy,” and caused it to shut off its scientific instruments. On February 4, NASA engineers “were able to shut down one of the systems using a large amount of power and turn the science instruments back on, according to NASA.” As of February 5, “Voyager 2 remains stable, has resumed taking science data and its continuing to be evaluated, the agency said.”
The Daily Mail (UK) (2/10, Morrison) reports that “mission operators for NASA say” Voyager 2 “is stable and communications between Earth and the spacecraft are good.” The spacecraft is “taking science measurements again” and the Voyager team is “evaluating the health” of its scientific instruments.
Chinese Manufacturers Struggle To Resume Production
Nikkei Asian Review (JPN) (2/10) reports, “Hopes that the Chinese economy would return to normal on Monday after an extended Lunar New Year holiday have taken a hit as several companies announced they will remain closed due to concerns over the coronavirus. Consumer goods makers, leisure facility operators, steelmakers are among those postponing operations, according to filings with the Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock exchanges.” Even companies “that have managed to resume operations are warning of potential difficulties to come.” Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., “a major Chinese chip foundry, is ‘working hard to maintain the uninterrupted state of manufacturing operations’ according to its disclosure to the Hong Kong Exchange on Friday.” Foxconn is also “taking extraordinary steps to restart production – even going so far as to begin manufacturing its own surgical masks for employees.” One source said, “The current status is that both manufacturers and governments do hope people could come back to work and manufacturing, as those are crucial to steady economic performance. But none of the parties want to be too aggressive, as no one could shoulder that kind of risk and responsibility.”
Airbus Reveals Blended Wing Body Aircraft
Reuters (2/10) reports that on Tuesday at the Singapore Airshow, Airbus “unveiled a curvaceous aircraft design that blends wing and body, designed to slash carbon emissions by some 20%.” Airbus had been conducting flight tests of the plane “at a secret location in central France since last year.” Blended Wing Body Aircraft “are complex to control but produce less aerodynamic drag, making them more efficient to fly.” Airbus Executive Vice President of Engineering Jean-Brice Dumont said, “We believe it is high time now to push this technology further and study what it brings to us. We need these disruptive technologies to meet our environmental challenge. It is the next generation of aircraft; we are studying an option.” Dumont “said it was too early to say whether such shapes could contribute to the next generation of medium-haul planes, expected in the 2030s.”
Engineering and Public Policy
U.S. Releases Plan To Fight Foreign Intelligence Threats, Includes Defense Of Supply Chains, Trade Secrets
The Washington Examiner (2/10, Dunleavy) reports that the Trump Administration “released its new National Counterintelligence Strategy on Monday, calling for a ‘whole-of-society approach’ to combat threats from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and other foreign countries.” The national security blueprint “focuses on five main areas: protecting the U.S.’s critical infrastructure, reducing threats to U.S. supply chains, countering the exploitation of the U.S. economy via corporate espionage and the theft of trade secrets, defending the U.S. against malign foreign influence, and guarding against cyberattacks and hackers.” Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina said, “The number of actors targeting the United States is growing. Other state adversaries such as Cuba, Iran, and North Korea; nonstate actors such as Lebanese Hezbollah, ISIS, and al Qaeda; as well as transnational criminal organizations and ideologically motivated entities such as hacktivists, leaktivists, and public disclosure organizations also pose significant threats.”
Panamanian Students Learn About STEM Through Lego Robots
IEEE Spectrum (1/20, Goodrich) profiled Victoria Serrano, an engineering professor at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá in Chiriquí, who launched STEM Beyond the Borders in 2016 to help teens who did not “have a clue what kind of STEM careers are available.” The program “used robots to teach preuniversity students in Panama about STEM subjects. Classes were held not only in classrooms but also in public marketplaces and church recreation rooms.” A Panama native, Serrano “found her calling for educational outreach while pursuing her master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering at Arizona State University.” She says the most popular hands-on activity she currently teaches “is building Lego Mindstorms snake robots and racing them.” Students use blueprints to construct their robots and program it “using the computational platform Matlab and simulation software Simulink. They conduct experiments to learn more about their robot’s speed to better prepare it for the race.”
All-Girls Team Participates In Tuscon High School Robotics Competition
KGUN-TV Tucson, AZ (2/9, Caballero) reported Sahuaro High School in Tuscon, Arizona hosted the VEX robotics tournament, which asks teams of students to build a robot capable of racking up “the most points in a match by scoring cubes in goals and placing cubes in towers.” One local team was “made up of all girls.” Alex Thwaits, a senior at Sahuaro High School, said, “It’s kind of intimidating to be like the only all girls team that’s at the competitions normally, but I mean, as long as you have a good robot, I normally don’t let it phase me.” She also said being part of the team inspired her to pursue mechanical engineering and engineering management at the University of Arizona in the fall.
Monday's Lead Stories
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