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|Good morning || February 13, 2020|
Leading the News
Study Finds Current Training Initiatives Fall Short In Preparing New Yorkers For Tech Careers
The New York Times (2/12, Lohr) reports that tech companies are looking to increase hiring for high-skilled positions in New York City, but many local workers are unprepared for careers in the tech industry, according to a new study. Researchers found most training programs “focus on simpler skills like digital literacy, basic computing concepts and preparation for entry-level jobs such as technology support technician and help-desk associate.” The study by the Center for an Urban Future says that “closing the opportunity gap in New York’s tech economy...will require more initiatives that truly prepare workers for careers that can be ladders to the middle class.”
Survey: Number Of New International Graduate Students Enrolled In US Colleges Increased In 2019
The Chronicle of Higher Education (2/12) reports the “number of new international graduate students enrolled in American colleges increased by 4 percent in the fall of 2019, the first growth since 2016,” according to a survey released by the Council of Graduate Schools. The number of new graduate students from “China ticked up by 3 percent, while those from India, which is second to China as a source of foreign students, were essentially flat.” But all growth is “not created equal – while enrollments went up at the most research-intensive universities, they fell at less-selective institutions.”
The poll also revealed that “international applications increased from 2018 in arts and humanities (6%), health sciences (7%), mathematics and computer sciences (7%), and biological and agricultural sciences (14%),” Forbes (2/12, Nietzel) reports. By contrast, “applications decreased in engineering (-2%) and business (-3%).”
CBO: US Government To Forgive $207.4B In Student Debt For Americans Who Take Out Loans Over The Next Decade
The Wall Street Journal (2/12, Mitchell, Subscription Publication) reports the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday stated that the government will forgive $207.4 billion in student debt. The announcement applies to students who receive loans over the next ten years. Graduate or professional school students are expected to comprise the largest percentage of beneficiaries.
National Society Of Black Engineers Executive Director Discusses How To Diversify STEM Education
Dr. Karl Reid, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers, writes in RealClearEducation (2/12, Reid) that a recent study published in the journal Education Researcher “shares important information on” efforts to increase diversity in STEM education. The study “notes that though black and Hispanic students enroll in STEM majors at college at rates proportionate to white students, those populations leave those majors at far higher rates than their white peers.” This data point indicates “that while our critical efforts to build an interest in STEM fields among young black and Hispanic students are working and must continue, more attention needs to be paid to support students once they enroll in college to ensure retention and their success in attaining a degree.” To encourage more students “to persist in their pursuit of a STEM degree,” Reid recommends creating an inclusive culture, providing ongoing support for students of color, and improving financial aid programs and policies.
Ivies Could Reduce Economic Stratification By Expanding Alumni SAT Boost, Study Says
The New York Times (2/12, Goldstein, Hartocollis) reports that a new paper from prominent economists including John Friedman of Brown University suggests that giving students from middle-income households a bump on their SAT scores, such as those enjoyed by children of alumni, could help close the economic gap at Ivy League-caliber schools. “The proportion of middle-class students on Ivy League-caliber campuses could be increased to 38 percent from 28 percent simply by enrolling more of those who have the same high SAT scores as wealthy applicants, the research suggests.”
Veteran Engineering Dean Set To Become University Of Maryland’s Next President
The Washington Post (2/12, Anderson, Svrluga) reports the “veteran engineering dean of the University of Maryland has been chosen to become the next president of the state’s flagship public university in College Park.” Darryll J. Pines, who has been on the College Park faculty since 1995, will succeed retiring U-Md. President Wallace D. Loh. And the 55-year-old knows he is “stepping into a job that will draw intense scrutiny statewide and beyond. “
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
Researchers Say US Power Grids Needs To Be Upgraded To Handle Climate Change
Science News (2/12, Temming) reports that “more than half of major U.S. power outages from 2000 to 2016 were caused by natural hazards like hurricanes, heat waves and wildfires, according to research reported July 2018 in Reliability Engineering & System Safety.” Likewise, the American Society of Civil Engineers predicted in a 2017 report that the aging US power grid will likely cause “longer and more frequent power interruptions.” The realistic ways to “electricity access more reliable in severe weather” are “getting smarter about how to patch up precarious parts of the grid, and building backup plans for when the grid fails.” Some researchers advocate for using a community microgrid powered by rooftop solar panels to power a city block. University of Pittsburgh Professor Gregory Reed said, “Microgrids are certainly a very important and rapidly developing solution,” but notes, “People who can afford microgrids … they’re leaving behind a whole part of the population that can’t.”
Former Google Engineers Reveal Details Of Delivery Robot Startup
TechCrunch (2/11, Harris) reports the engineers “behind Google’s short-lived Bookbot – a robot created within the company’s Area 120 incubator for experimental products – have launched their own startup to bring the sidewalk delivery bot back to life.” TechCrunch says their “secretive startup” Cartken “was formed in fall 2019 after Google shuttered an internal program to develop a delivery robot – a move that was prompted by the tech giant’s decision to scale back efforts to compete with Amazon in shopping.” TechCrunch adds that in contrast to Amazon, “which acquired robot maker Dispatch to help build its Scout delivery device, Google harnessed the talent of its own engineers and logistics experts to develop a sidewalk robot within the walls of Google’s Area 120 incubator. But the project faltered after just a few months, as Google pulled back from retail delivery.”
Federal Reserve Chair Says Strong U.S. Jobs Market Is Sustainable
Reuters (2/12, Saphir, Dunsmuir) reports that in an appearance before the Senate Banking Committee today, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell “reiterated his confidence in the U.S. economic outlook, even as he said he expected some drag ‘soon’ from China’s new coronavirus epidemic and called out the threat from income inequality and an expanding federal debt.” Powell is quoted as saying, “There’s no reason why the current situation of low unemployment, rising wages, high job creation – there’s no reason why it can’t go on. ... There is nothing about this economy that is out of kilter or imbalanced.” According to Reuters, “His remarks underscored the central bank’s view that its current target range for short-term borrowing costs, between 1.5% and 1.75%, is the right setting to keep the expansion on track.”
However, Bloomberg (2/12, Miller, Torres) reports that Powell also “came close to acknowledging that the central bank may not have the firepower to fight the next recession and called on Congress to get ready to help,” which Bloomberg says “highlights the difficulties that the Fed and other major central banks face in a world of historically low interest rates and why tax cuts and government spending increases may also be needed to fight future downturns.”
The AP (2/12, Rugaber) reports that during the same hearing, Republican and Democratic senators “voiced strong support for an independent Federal Reserve...one day after” President Trump “launched another attack directed at Powell on Twitter,” which the AP reports “suggests Trump’s attacks on Powell and the Fed have found little traction among members of his own party on Capitol Hill.” The AP reports Powell “also defended the Fed’s intellectual openness and diversity after being questioned...about ‘group think’ at the Fed.” According to the AP, “The question was likely a preview of the debate that may take place over one of Trump’s recent nominees for the Fed Board of Governors, Judy Shelton,” who “supports a range of unorthodox views on monetary policy and has questioned whether the Fed should be independent of the White House.”
Airbus Reaches Deal To Purchase Bombardier’s Stake In A220 Program
Reuters (2/13) reports that Airbus “has reached a deal to buy the remaining stake of Canadian plane and train maker Bombardier in the A220 passenger jet program, it said on Thursday.” The deal “signals Bombardier’s exit from commercial aviation by transferring its remaining interest in Airbus Canada to the main parent Airbus SE company and the government of the Canadian state of Quebec.” Bombardier will receive $591 million in the deal. Bombardier “will no longer have future funding capital requirements to Airbus Canada.” Bombardier President and CEO Alain Bellemare said, “This transaction supports our efforts to address our capital structure and completes our strategic exit from commercial aerospace,”
Bloomberg (2/13, Ryan) reports that Airbus “increased its stake in the A220...to 75%.” The government of Quebec “lifted its share to 25%, the companies said Thursday.”
Airbus Reports Earnings
The AP (2/13) reports that Airbus “lost 1.36 billion euros ($1.48 billion) in 2019 because of a multibillion-euro bribery settlement with authorities in three countries, but otherwise saw a record year of aircraft deliveries and increased its dividend.” Airbus’ “operating earnings without one-time burdens rose 19% to 6.9 billion euros.” The company “said Thursday it would propose a dividend of 1.80 euros per share, up 9% from 2017.” Revenues rose 11% to 70.5 billion euros. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said that the company’s earnings contained “a strong underlying financial performance,” but that Airbus “cannot be satisfied” with the net loss. Airbus delivered 863 aircraft in 2019, up from 800 in 2018. The “large net loss reflected 3.6 billion euros set aside to cover a criminal settlement with authorities in the U.S., France and Britain over past corrupt practices.” Additionally, Airbus “lost 1.2 billion euros because of troubles with its A400M military transport program and 221 million euros because the German government suspended export licenses to Saudi Arabia through March.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Legislators, Industry Praise NASA Budget Increase, Express Concern Over Cuts
Space News (2/12, Foust, Subscription Publication) reports NASA’s “fiscal year 2021 budget proposal has gotten a mixed reception on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, with many supporting increased funding for exploration efforts but criticizing another attempt to cut science and education programs.” House Committee on Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chair Kendra Horn (D-OK) said, “I’m glad to see an increase in the budget.” However, she added that she is “concerned to see some of the critical science missions being zeroed out.” Legislators are calling for more details from NASA as to how it plans to achieve its lunar exploration goals. Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science Chair Jerry Moran (R-KS) said February 10, “While it is encouraging to see a proposed budget that supports returning American astronauts to the Moon, I remain eager to receive sufficient budget details to match our ambitious human exploration goals.” Moran added, “I am disappointed the budget would cut STEM education, which plays a vital role in making certain we have the talent to achieve our mission.” The industry group Coalition for Deep Space Exploration similarly “balanced its support for increased spending on NASA exploration programs with concerns about cuts to science and education efforts.”
Trump Issues Executive Order Focused On Protecting GPS-Reliant Critical Infrastructure
Space News (2/12, Erwin, Subscription Publication) reports that on February 12, President Trump “signed an executive order that calls for a government-wide effort to improve the security and resilience of services that depend on the Global Positioning System for positioning, navigation and timing.” The “Strengthening National Resilience Through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation and Timing Services” order “directs the executive branch departments and agencies to adopt guidelines for how to manage the risk of disruption to critical infrastructure that they rely on GPS services.” GPS functions via “satellites placed into orbit by the Department of Defense. A constellation of about 31 satellites orbit the Earth.” The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology “will be in charge of developing PNT cybersecurity guidance, said a White House official.”
NTSB Investigating Airbus A220 Engine Issues
Reuters (2/12) reports that France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et ‘Analyses (BEA) said on Twitter that an AirBaltic A220-300 flight was diverted to Bordeaux Wednesday “because of a technical failure in the left engine.” The NTSB said that this incident is the “fourth reported case involving the Pratt & Whitney engine powering the Airbus jet.” An NTSB spokesman said in an email that the agency “has accepted delegation for 3 previous incidents” and “will also look at the most recent incident.” The spokesman added, “NTSB is in the process of gathering initial data. It is still in the early stage of any investigation cannot make any conclusions at this time.” Airbus and United Technologies Corp, “maker of the Pratt PW1500G engines, confirmed in statements that they were aware of the flight and [are] working ‘to provide assistance’ as required.”
Also in the News
Manufacturers Group Kicks Off Campaign To Close The Industry’s Skills Gap
The Hill (2/12, Gangitano) reports that NAM and The Manufacturing Institute launched the “Creators Wanted” campaign “to close the growing skills gap in the manufacturing industry,” with the goal to “reduce the U.S. skills gap by 600,000 and expand the number of students enrolled in technical and vocational schools or re-skilling programs by 25 percent by 2025.” The article adds, “NAM has over $12 million in initial sponsorships from manufacturing companies such as Honda, Toyota, Microsoft, Stanley Black & Decker, Boeing, Walmart, Merck, Salesforce, Volvo, Nestle, Exxon, Caterpillar, and Lockheed Martin, among others.”
Wednesday's Lead Stories
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