|Good morning || May 18, 2020|
Leading the News
Autoworkers Are Returning To Factories
The New York Times (5/17, Boudette) reports that “tens of thousands of autoworkers have started streaming back into car and truck plants across the South and Midwest, a critical step toward bringing the nation’s largest manufacturing industry back to life.” While motor vehicle production is going to come back gradually, its return is nevertheless anticipated to provide the US economy with “a much-needed jolt.” Motor vehicle production returning “will also be critical to the automakers, their dealers and their suppliers, which have lost billions of dollars in sales in recent weeks and have been forced to take on debt to ride out the pandemic.”
Colleges, Universities Expected To Be Hard Hit By State Budget Cuts
Inside Higher Ed (5/15) reported “officials in states around the country have announced the need to make major cuts that could hit colleges and universities.” Last Thursday, for instance, California governor Gavin Newsom said the state would have to “cut higher education by $1.7 billion to close a mammoth $54.3 billion budget hole caused by the pandemic.” On the east coast, the City University of New York system is “worrying about ‘potentially deep cuts to our academic programs, campuses and our students’ after the state’s latest fiscal plan two weeks ago predicted the shuttering of businesses, the dimming of the lights on Broadway and the loss of jobs during the pandemic will force Governor Andrew Cuomo...to make $8.2 billion in cuts next month.”
More Universities Starting To Lay Off Faculty
The Chronicle of Higher Education (5/15) reported when the Covid-19 pandemic “threatened to deplete projected budgets, college leaders, like those at UMass-Boston, looked to minimize expenses and make difficult choices about priorities.” While decisions were “still up in the air, faculty members, especially those off the tenure track, feared that their ranks would be thinned. Now, those cuts are starting to be made across academe.”
Pandemic Devastating Once Vibrant College Towns
The Wall Street Journal (5/17, Baer, Subscription Publication) reports on how college towns in America are being largely devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, Blacksburg, Virginia typically welcomes a bevy of families who are attending Virginia Tech commencement ceremonies. But this year, the city’s restaurants, hotels, and other services that usually benefit economically from the influx remained largely quiet.
In South Carolina, USA Today (5/15, Nicholson, Semmler, Network) reports that when Clemson University students turn 21, they “celebrate at Tiger Town Tavern by buying one of the downtown bar’s iconic ‘I’m Legal!’ T-shirts.” But for two months, Tiger Town Tavern “sat empty – after being in continual operation since 1977.” It’s a “similar story throughout Clemson, South Carolina, and in small college towns across the country, where paper signs taped to bar doors, retail windows and restaurant entrances announce they’re closed until further notice.” And with “uncertainty around colleges’ plans to reopen, experts warn they might face a prolonged slump that could mean ‘total devastation.’”
Harvard Files Appeal Of Affirmative Action Case
Politico (5/15, Quilantan) reported Harvard has “responded to an appeal of a federal ruling that found the school did not intentionally discriminate against prospective Asian American students nor failed to comply with Supreme Court precedent that governs the consideration of race in admissions.” In its 93-page brief filed Thursday, the school “argued that a lower court’s judgment in the case should be affirmed because it ‘correctly found that Harvard has established a compelling interest in diversity, considers race as one factor among many, does not pursue racial balancing, and cannot presently achieve its goal of assembling an exceptional and diverse student body using race-neutral alternatives.’” The case is “widely believed to become the Supreme Court’s next opening to potentially ban affirmative action.” Notably, the Trump Administration has “chimed in on the legal battle,” siding with the Students For Fair Admissions.
HBCUs Working To Meet Their Students’ Needs During Shutdown
The AP (5/15, Loller) reported it is a “perilous time for the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, which have long struggled with less funding and smaller endowments than their predominantly white peers and are now dealing with the financial challenges of the coronavirus.” But HBCUs have a “resilient spirit and a tradition of educating African Americans in communities that are going to fight hard for them,” said Forrest Harris, the president of American Baptist College. Schools are also working to meet the needs of their students during the current shutdown. At Morehouse, for example, the school is “housing around 20 students who could not return home in an Atlanta hotel.”
Pandemic Exacerbating “Summer Melt” Risk Among Potential First Generation College Students
The Hechinger Report (5/15) reported that every year, “high school seniors who will be the first in their families to attend college fall victim to what’s called ‘summer melt.’” But this summer, “because the pandemic has closed schools and eaten away at household finances, the risk is even higher.” Thus, colleges and universities, “as well as nonprofit organizations, are scrambling to reduce summer melt by reaching out with virtual summer bridge programs, texting and remote peer-counseling.”
Opinion: Parent Sues George Washington University For Switching To Online-Only Classes
In a piece published by the Washington Post (5/17), the parent of a George Washington University student explains why he is suing the school. Attorney Mark Shaffer says when his “daughter was deciding where to go to college, they were persuaded by George Washington University’s promises of an extraordinary on-campus experience.” And for “six semesters as an undergraduate, and then a seventh in pursuit of a master’s degree,” his “daughter enjoyed the promised experience.” But as college campuses across the country have “shut down to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, most schools, including GWU, have offered only online classes since mid-March.” This remote education is “nowhere near the caliber of the on-campus experience students were promised” and “unfortunately – and offensively – the university has refused” to partially refund of this semester’s tuition and fees.
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
ULA Atlas V Rocket Carrying X-37B Launched Sunday
Space News (5/17, Subscription Publication) reports that on May 17 at 9:14 a.m. EST, United Launch Alliance “launched an Atlas 5 rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force X-37B spaceplane to orbit for its sixth mission.” The “launch was originally scheduled on Saturday, May 16, but was scrubbed due to ground winds.” The AP (5/17, Dunn) reports that the launch “marked just the second rocket launch for the newly established Space Force.” ULA “declared success 1 1/2 hours after liftoff. It dedicated Sunday’s launch to the health care workers and others who are working on the front lines of the pandemic.”
Indiana University Scientists Develop Tissue Nanotransfection Technique
The AP (5/17) reports a “dime-size nanochip developed by a world-renowned researcher who recently relocated to Indianapolis could help transform the practice of medicine.” In 2018, when Chandan Sen, “one of the world’s leading experts in the nascent field of regenerative medicine, moved his lab from Ohio State University to the Indiana University School of Medicine.” He brought along a “team of about 30 researchers and $10 million in research grants, and now serves...as director of the newly formed Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering.” The 53-year-old and his team’s “signal contribution to the field is a technique they’ve dubbed tissue nanotransfection, or TNT.” In short, it uses a “nanotechnology-based chip infused with a special biological ‘cargo’ that, when applied to the skin and given a brief electrical charge, can convert run-of-the-mill skin cells into other cell types.”
University Of Arizona To Expand Availability Of COVID-19 Antibody Tests To Healthcare Workers, First Responders
The Arizona Republic (5/15) reported the University of Arizona announced on Friday that it will “expand the availability of antibody tests to healthcare workers and first responders who potentially contracted COVID-19 at one point.” Altogether, there will be “31 antibody testing sites across the state, with additional sites becoming available as needed.” The state of Arizona provided “$3.5 million for the testing increase according to the statement.”
Labor Department: Layoffs Hit 11.4 Million In March
Reuters (5/15, Mutikani) reported the Labor Department “said on Friday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, that layoffs and discharges increased 9.5 million in March to 11.4 million, the highest since the government started tracking the series in 2000,” while “the number of people voluntarily quitting their jobs dropped to a 4-1/2-year low as the novel coronavirus crisis rapidly changed labor market dynamics.” The Wall Street Journal (5/15, Chaney, Weber, Subscription Publication) reported the layoffs have impacted women more than men, according to Labor Department data.
Class Of 2020 Graduates Face Difficult Job Market
The AP (5/17, Cohen, Gecker) reports that “mere months ago,” the Class of 2020 “seemed all but assured of success.” But the pandemic has since shattered the economy, causing the unemployment rate to soar to 14.7 percent, “the worst since the Great Depression.” Now, college graduates will be “competing not just with experienced workers but with those in another Class of 2020 – high school graduates who aren’t college-bound or have put their dreams on hold to join the job hunt, in some cases to help newly unemployed parents.” According to the AP, young graduates are “more likely to be unemployed or settle for lower-paying work” in the short term.
The Hill (5/16, Moreno, Coleman) reported about 4 million people “are expected to graduate with a college degree this academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.” Job search experts said the “unknown” factors of this economic downturn, including how long virus-related shutdowns will last, make the situation unique. Still, employers in certain fields are still hiring, especially in the healthcare, “education, government, technology, warehouse and delivery industries.”
The Houston (TX) Chronicle (5/17) reports some graduating students have had job offers pulled “due to the economic impact of the pandemic.” Other students “find themselves stuck in unemployment limbo.” Even students who are not graduating this year are “beginning to reevaluate their plans, since the unfolding economic crisis has meant canceled or postponed internships and fellowships.”
Airbus To Furlough Over 3,000 Workers In Spain
Bloomberg (5/15, Gualtieri, Ryan) reported that Airbus “will furlough 3,163 workers in Spain as the European planemaker extends moves to save cash and scale down output following a collapse in demand.” The “temporary layoffs under the country’s ERTE program were agreed Thursday and will run from next week through the end of September, according to Francisco San Jose, head of the union committee at Airbus’s Spanish arm.” The “move means more than 10,000 Airbus staff have now been idled, with 4,700 furloughed in the U.K. and at least 3,000 in France.” Airbus “is meanwhile preparing for permanent job cuts and aims to reach agreement with unions by next month after Faury told senior managers Thursday it must stem cash outflows that threaten its survival, people familiar with the matter have said.”
SpaceX, NASA Prepare For Most Important Launch In Company’s History
In a front-page story, the Washington Post (5/16, A1, Davenport) reports SpaceX “faces the most significant test since it was founded in 2002” with the upcoming launch, on May 27, of “two veteran NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, to the International Space Station from the same launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center that hoisted the crew of Apollo 11 to the moon.” The launch will be SpaceX’s chance to capture the accomplishment of “the first launch by a private company of people into orbit. ... marking the end of the era where only government-owned spacecraft achieved such heights and adding another major step in the privatization of space.” The launch also would put SpaceX ahead of Boeing in their competition for more work from NASA. After years of setbacks and successes, SpaceX and NASA say the company has learned many lessons about space flight, although the coronavirus pandemic lays on “another degree of difficulty to a mission with no room for error.”
SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch Rescheduled For Tuesday
CNET News (5/17, Mack) reports that the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled for Sunday, has been rescheduled to 3:10 a.m. Tuesday. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk “said the first VisorSats would be included in the batch of 60 satellites” set to launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket. It is “not clear how many of the satellites to be launched Tuesday will be equipped with the VisorSat system.” The “first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used has previously flown four times before, including for two of the prior seven Starlink launches. SpaceX is expected to attempt a landing of the rocket on a droneship in the Atlantic and to catch the two halves of the nose cone using separate ships equipped with huge nets.”
Tesla Allegedly Chooses Austin, Tulsa As Finalist Cities For New US Plant
The AP (5/15, Krisher) reported Austin, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma are the two finalist cities chosen by Tesla “for its new U.S. assembly plant, a person briefed on the matter said Friday.” According to the story, that individual who spoke with the AP “says company officials visited Tulsa in the past week and were shown two sites.” There may be other finalist cities, but the “secret” selection process will most likely focus on places “in the center of the country and closer to East Coast markets” than Tesla’s West Coast operations. The electric-vehicle maker wants to build a plant “larger than its factory in Fremont, California, which employs 10,000 workers.”
Lockheed Martin To Pay Out Suppliers, Hire 12,000 New Workers By Year’s End
Reuters (5/15) reported that Lockheed Martin “said on Friday it would pay an additional $300 million to its suppliers hurt by a sharp economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus crisis.” The company also “has hired over 3,400 new employees in the United States since the pandemic began, and said it remains on track with its plans to hire 12,000 new employees by the end of the year.”
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Advertiser Supplied Content
Goldwater Scholar Shows Promise In Pharmaceutical Research
University of Delaware junior Lucas Attia, a chemical engineering major, has been named a Goldwater Scholar. Attia has already demonstrated extraordinary potential as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Cathy Fromen, where he studies aerosolized nanoparticle drug carriers, tiny particles that could deliver medicine to lung tissue in people afflicted with respiratory diseases. Read more.
Engineering and Public Policy
Federal Reserve: April Decline In Industrial Production Was Worst In Over A Century
The Wall Street Journal (5/15, Harrison, Subscription Publication) reported the Federal Reserve on Friday announced U.S. industrial production fell by a seasonally adjusted 11.2 percent in April over the previous month, marking the steepest decline in 101 years of records. The Journal added manufacturing output fell by 13.7 percent in April over March, while mining production fell by 6.1 percent over the same period.
California Denies SpaceX Request For Over Half A Million In Funding
Reuters (5/15, Roulette) reported the California Employment Training Panel voted down a proposal from SpaceX “for $655,500 in state job and training funds.” One major reason for the rejection was SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s “recent threats to move Tesla, the electric carmaker that he also runs, out of the state,” the story says, adding that the state’s “snub comes as Musk has sparred with officials in Alameda County over his plans to resume production at the Tesla plant there, which was stopped because of the coronavirus.”
Long Island High School Students Create Website Featuring Database Of COVID-19 Testing Locations In New York
Newsday (NY) (5/15) reported “after years of immersing themselves in STEM...education, four Jericho High School juniors put their skills to test when their community lacked critical information in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.” Through “online surveys they shared on social media platforms,” Danny Li and his classmates “learned that many had no idea where to go for testing.” They eventually “created COVIDCentral.org. The website features a database of all COVID-19 testing locations available in New York, in addition to food distribution centers and blood plasma donation sites, with an interactive map to help users easily identify locations near their ZIP code.”
Massachusetts Failing To Meet Demand From Students For Advanced Computer Science Offerings
The Boston Globe (5/17) reported that across the country, “demand from students for advanced computer science offerings has exploded, making AP Computer Science Principles the nation’s second-fastest-growing AP class.” But “parts of Massachusetts, and Boston especially, have lagged in meeting that demand.” What’s more, “a lot of schools that are full of minorities don’t get the message of, ‘Okay, I could do coding,’” said Edward Lambert, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.
SpaceX, NASA Invite Students To Submit Their Photo To Fly On America’s First Human Spaceflight In Nearly Ten Years
CNET News (5/17, Kooser) reports from a Facebook “commencement to robot avatars, the graduates of 2020 are finding ways to honor their academic careers during the coronavirus pandemic” and one “new option is to launch their face into space.” SpaceX is set to “send two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 27.” And in an “effort to celebrate the class of 2020 – from kindergarten to graduate school – SpaceX and NASA are inviting students from around the world to submit their photo to fly on America’s first human spaceflight in nearly a decade.”
Also in the News
Commentary: Increasing Women’s Participation In Cybersecurity Is Good For Business, Society
In a piece published by The Conversation (5/15, Kshetri), a professor of management at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro said women are “highly underrepresented in the field of cybersecurity” and just “1% of female internet security workers are in senior management positions.” Not only do organizations “often fail to try to recruit women to work in cybersecurity,” Nir Kshetri maintains that “gender bias in job ads further discourages women from applying.” But increasing women’s “participation in cybersecurity is good for women, good for business and good for society.”
Friday's Lead Stories
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