|Good morning || May 15, 2020|
Leading the News
ULA, SpaceX To Conduct Launches From Cape Canaveral This Weekend
Florida Today (5/14, Kelly) reports that at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41, United Launch Alliance “completed the rollout of an Atlas V rocket and secretive X-37B spaceplane to the pad Thursday morning.” The launch of the Atlas V rocket is scheduled for 8:24 a.m. Saturday, “though a full window has not been released due to national security reasons.” At “neighboring Launch Complex 40, meanwhile, SpaceX successfully test fired a Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday morning, firmly placing it on the schedule to fly at 3:53 a.m. Sunday. Secured in the rocket’s payload fairing are 60 Starlink internet-beaming satellites.” Commander of the 45th Space Wing Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess told reporters Saturday that turnaround between the two launches “would be about 20 hours, which would break our record of last August of 34 hours. That hasn’t been broken in about 30 years.” Weather conditions for Saturday’s launch are 40% “go,” while Sunday’s launch is 80% “go.” However, the Atlas V launch will take priority over the Falcon 9 launch because the Boeing-made X-37B spaceplace is a national security asset. If there is a delay Saturday, the Altas V launch will be rescheduled to Sunday and SpaceX “will have to push off its mission by 24 hours, too.”
The Houston Chronicle (5/14, Leinfelder) reports that Saturday’s “planned launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida will be the sixth mission for the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.” The Air Force “owns the spaceplane, but the Space Force, an independent component in the Department of the Air Force, is responsible for its launch, on-orbit operations and landing.” The service “touts the vehicle for its ability to test new systems in space and return them to Earth. This upcoming mission will attach a new service module to the vehicle to host additional experiments.” The experiments for this mission “include a NASA study examining the effects of radiation on seeds used to grow food and a U.S. Naval Research Laboratory experiment that will turn solar power into radio frequency microwave energy that could be transmitted to the ground.”
Some Colleges Push Viral Testing, Alternative Methods To Allow Fall Semester In-Person
The Washington Post (5/14, Anderson, Svrluga) reports many colleges and universities are “pushing to bring students back to campus in the fall, pledging an all-out effort to overcome the extraordinary challenges of housing and teaching them during a public health crisis.” The University of California at San Diego has already set up a “self-serve” COVID-19 testing station and the “experiment is one of many data-gathering initiatives advocates say are needed to reopen.” But health experts “fear some schools may be moving too fast to reopen.”
Colleges Urged To Focus Their Attention On Improving Students’ Virtual Experience
Inside Higher Ed (5/14) reports the “reality is that campuses may well remain closed to students in the fall, and colleges and universities should focus their attention on making a fully virtual experience the best it can possibly be,” according to Eduventures. The research firm’s report “hardly roots for colleges to remain shuttered to students this fall.” Still, “institutional leaders need to find a way to convey a vision for the fall semester that increases student enthusiasm, deepens faculty loyalty, and galvanizes support staff.”
Campus Life Likely To Vary Drastically By Community
The New York Times (5/14, Hubler) reports that “across the country this fall, college life is likely to be vastly different from campus to campus – a patchwork that mirrors what is currently happening in states and communities, as some move toward widespread reopening and others keep their economies mostly closed.” At UC San Diego, for example, “hope rests on a pilot project for mass testing of students during the summer session.” Nonetheless, many colleges are in “critical condition, as the coronavirus has stalled the economy, gutted state budgets, cratered endowments and made heading off to college seem less an adventure than a threat.”
Most Colleges Preparing For Decline In International Students, Study Finds
ABC News (5/14, News) reports while colleges across the country are “still on the fence about opening their campuses to students, most are preparing for a drop in the number of international students,” according to new study from the Institute of International Education. Mirka Martel, the report’s author, “noted that 74% of respondents said they don’t know if they will continue their study abroad programs in the fall but 70% said they anticipate that at least some international students won’t able to come to their campus for that semester.” The surveyed campuses “taught 519,000 international students during the 2018-2019 academic year, which was approximately 47% of the US’ total international student population.”
Professor Stricken With COVID-19 Shares His Experiences
The Chronicle of Higher Education (5/14) shares the story of a professor “who’s spoken out about his experience being sick with Covid-19 in an effort to inform colleges’ conversations about reopening.” Phillip W. Stokes, 36, “eats healthfully and exercises regularly.” Even so, when Stokes, an “assistant professor of Arabic at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, came down with Covid-19 in mid-March, he got sicker than he had ever been.” Stokes’s experience “highlights some of the challenges colleges will face when professors become infected – whether they’re teaching in person or not.”
Miami University Hires New Dean Of College Of Engineering And Computing
Engineering News-Record (5/13) reports in an “Executive News” roundup that Beena Sukumaran, vice president for research at Rowan University, will become dean of the College of Engineering and Computing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio starting Aug. 1. Sukumaran “had headed Rowan’s civil and environmental engineering department and will succeed Marek Dollár, who will return to the faculty.”
Cal State’s Plans For Fall Semester Differ From Many Other Schools
Inside Higher Ed (5/14) reports the California State University system’s “chancellor announced Tuesday in a virtual meeting with trustees that the university is moving ahead with a ‘virtual planning framework.’” Many other schools have “stressed that they are ‘intending’ or ‘planning’ or ‘hoping’ to reopen campuses.” CSU chancellor Timothy White “flipped that message on its head. Instruction will be mostly virtual, he said, unless changes in the disease spread make it possible to have class in-person.”
Undergrads Launch Petition Arguing Against Virtual Fall Semester At Harvard College
Fox News (5/14, Sang) reports as colleges and universities around the country “contemplate whether to reopen their campuses in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of undergraduate students at one Ivy League school are letting their voices be heard.” A petition began “circulating among undergraduates arguing against a virtual fall semester at Harvard College.” According to the school newspaper, the petition has “garnered nearly 700 signatures from undergraduates, parents and alumni.”
Opinion: Federal Guarantee Of Education For Workers Could Accelerate An Economic Recovery Now
In a piece published by the New York Times (5/14, Miller-Adams), a professor of political science at Grand Valley State University says Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “recently announced a plan to make essential pandemic workers in her state eligible for free college.” The initiative is “worthy and important,” but a state program is “not enough,” Michelle Miller-Adams argues. We “need a national, federally funded program that will enable any adult without a degree to return to college or earn a comparable credential without paying tuition.” Much as the G.I. Bill “served to power the American economy after World War II by providing returning men and women of the armed services with affordable higher education, so a federal guarantee of training for adult workers could accelerate an economic recovery now – and at relatively low cost.”
ASEE's 2020 Annual Conference Now a Virtual Experience
Lots of great content - none of the travel!
The 2020 ASEE Annual Conference is an online event. See all the details here.
Special Call for Papers - Covid Edition
ASEE's Journal of Engineering Education and Advances in Engineering Education are issuing a special call for papers. Learn more here.
WEPAN Executive Director Search
As WEPAN approaches its 30th Anniversary, they announce a search for an ED to lead them into their next 30 years! The WEPAN ED is responsible for providing leadership, setting direction and proving guidance for WEPAN’s activities, members, and member organizations. The successful candidate will be a thought leader, collaborative worker, strategic thinker, and is fiscally responsible. Learn more here. Direct questions directed to P.K. Imbrie (765.427.2607) or Shelia Ross (312.505.7683).
ASEE Resource Central
ASEE Resource Central is now live. This site provides resources for online teaching promising practices, remote work advice, student support strategies, and insights on virtual labs and capstones. Topics are searchable and organized by category. The site is continuously updated with new resources, leveraging the expertise of ASEE members and our community.
Research and Development
UT Dallas Researchers Design 3D-Printed Disposable Ventilator Valve
The Dallas Morning News (5/14, Arnold) reports researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas “have designed a 3D-printed ventilator valve that helps patients breathe.” The ventilator valves “called positive end-expiratory pressure, also known as PEEP,” are disposable “to ensure patients’ lungs some air and do not collapse when exhaling.” The research team “is seeking emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so it can distribute the parts [to] hospitals that need them, the university said in an announcement.” The research team at UT Dallas “is one of several university groups across the country working to increase the supply of ventilators and protective equipment.”
Several “Obstacles” Remain For SpaceX Demo-2 Crewed Mission
SPACE (5/14, Gohd) reports SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission launch, scheduled for May 27, “is less than two weeks from launching NASA astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time, but some big obstacles still stand in the way.” Director of NASA’s Spaceflight Division Phil McAlister told NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operation Committee, “We are still finishing up some final testing, there are still some documents we have to review. ... Even though we’re 13 days [away], there’s still work to be done.” McAlister said, “we are still finishing off some final testing.” However, he “did not specify whether this final testing was additional simulation training with the astronauts or testing with the vehicle itself.” One “of the biggest hurdles” the mission has “yet to overcome...is the last flight readiness review (FRR), which is currently scheduled for May 21.”
Additional 3M Americans Applied For Unemployment Last Week
The AP (5/14, Rugaber) reports that the Labor Department revealed on Thursday that “nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as the viral outbreak led more companies to slash jobs even though most states have begun to let some businesses reopen under certain restrictions.” The AP reports “roughly 36 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the two months since the coronavirus first forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces.” The AP reports that “an additional 842,000 people applied for aid last week through a separate federal program set up for the self-employed and gig workers.” According to the AP, “The wave of layoffs may not subside until Congress can agree on providing rescue aid for financially desperate state and local governments as well as further help for households.”
Reuters (5/14, Mutikani) reports the data “supports economists’ contention that it would take a while for activity to rebound even as businesses in many states reopen after shuttering in mid-March.” Initial claims “for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 2.981 million for the week ended May 9, the government said.” Although that was “down from 3.176 million in the prior week and marked the sixth straight weekly drop, claims remain astoundingly high.”
The New York Times (5/14, Cohen, Hsu) reports that “despite feverish attempts by states to keep up with the onslaught of claims, many workers remain supremely frustrated, either by their inability to submit applications or by payment delays.” The Times also reports that “in places where the fitful process of reopening has started, workers who have been called back to their jobs often face reduced hours and paychecks as well as a heightened risk of infection.”
Additional coverage by the Washington Post (5/14, Romm), Politico (5/14, Rainey) and the Wall Street Journal (5/14, A1, Chaney, Guilford, Subscription Publication).
Tesla To Introduce Low-Cost Long-Life Batteries In Model 3 Sedans
Reuters (5/14) reports that Tesla “plans to introduce a new low-cost, long-life battery in its Model 3 sedan in China later this year or early next that it expects will bring the cost of electric vehicles in line with gasoline models, and allow EV batteries to have second and third lives in the electric power grid.” The new batteries will be “designed to last for a million miles” and are “just part of Musk’s agenda, people familiar with the plans told Reuters.” The electric car maker plans to eventually introduce “improved versions of the battery, with greater energy density and storage capacity and even lower cost.”
Reuters (5/14, Shirouzu, Lienert) reports that Musk “reached out to battery experts clustered at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia,” to assist with the development of this new technology. In 2016, Tesla “agreed to fund a group of scientists led for the past 24 years by Jeff Dahn, a pioneer in lithium-ionbattery development.”
Among other outlets reporting are TechCrunch (5/14), Automotive News (5/14), and Fox Business (5/14).
Airbus CEO Says Company Must Be “Resized”
Reuters (5/14, Hepher) reports that Airbus “has told senior staff the company must be ‘resized’ in plans to be set out by around end-June and is ready to cut jet production again to tackle any second wave of the coronavirus crisis, people briefed on the matter said.” CEO Guillaume Faury “told Airbus bosses to ‘face reality’ in a briefing on Thursday on the crisis.” Faury “once again warned that Airbus may not survive without change and insisted that ‘radical,’ ‘proactive’ and urgent steps were needed, according to people briefed on the presentation.”
Bloomberg (5/14, Ryan) reports that Faury “has told senior managers the European planemaker must ‘act fast’ to slash jobs as it confronts the sharpest downturn ever in the aviation industry.” Airbus “is preparing for a permanent staff downsizing after demand for new aircraft suddenly evaporated because of the coronavirus crisis.” Formal conversations with labor unions over possible layoffs are expected to take place next week.
Boeing CEO Looks To “Smooth Over Tensions” With Airlines After Saying A US Airline Would “Likely” Fold
NBC News (5/14, Josephs) reports that The Boeing Company CEO David Calhoun “has spoken with some airline CEOs in recent days to try to smooth over tensions after he told NBC’s ‘TODAY’ show that a U.S. carrier will ‘likely’ go out of business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter.” A “high-ranking airline executive at United complained to Calhoun about the comment, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Delta To Retire Boeing 777 Aircraft
Reuters (5/14, Ajmera) reports that Delta Air Lines “said on Thursday it would no longer fly The Boeing Company’s wide-body 777 aircraft and some of the other older high-maintenance jets, as the U.S. carrier looks to cut costs amid a steep fall in bookings due to travel restrictions around the world.” The “move to retire 18 Boeing 777 jets, along with the MD-90 planes, by the end of the year would result in second-quarter non-cash impairment charges of $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion, before tax, the airline said.” Delta “said it would use Airbus SE’s more fuel-efficient and cost-effective A330 and A350-900 wide-body planes for long-haul flying when international demand returns.”
Aviation International News (5/14, Polek) reports that Delta COO Gil Wes said, “We’re making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic while also ensuring Delta is well-positioned for the recovery on the backside of the crisis. ... The 777 has been a reliable part of Delta’s success since it joined the fleet in 1999 and because of its unique operating characteristics, opened new non-stop, ultra-long-haul markets that only it could fly at that time.” Since the “onset of the Covid-19 crisis, Delta has parked aircraft and is considering early aircraft retirements to reduce what it calls operational complexity and cost. So far, the airline has parked more than 650 mainline and regional aircraft to adjust capacity to match reduced customer demand.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Census Bureau Survey Finds 75% Of Small Businesses Sought Federal Aid Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
The Wall Street Journal (5/14, Omeokwe, Subscription Publication) reports a survey by the Census Bureau released Thursday found 75 percent of small businesses in the US have sought federal assistance to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, 75 percent of respondents sought Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and 38 percent of respondents said they received the loan money; nearly 30 percent said they sought SBA disaster loans and 10 percent said they received the funding.
High School Seniors, Families’ Concerns About Educational Goals Discussed
Liz Willen, the editor-in-chief of the Hechinger Report (5/14), has been “speaking with seniors and their families to learn more about their decision-making process while keeping a close eye on the schools rapidly changing responses” to the pandemic. For some, the coronavirus outbreak has “totally upended their plans for the foreseeable future, as family income is threatened and as some campuses remain closed for the fall.” And also colleges, “in turn, are really concerned about the lack of revenue.”
Also in the News
Engineer Charged With Over $10 Million COVID-Relief Fraud
The Deccan (IND) Herald (5/14) reports that “an Indian-origin engineer in the US has been charged with fraudulently seeking more than USD 10 million in loans under a coronavirus relief programme set up to help small businesses.” The Herald says “Shashank Rai, 30, allegedly sought millions of dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act from two different banks by claiming to have 250 employees earning wages when, in fact, no employee worked for his alleged business.”
Thursday's Lead Stories
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