|Good morning || June 23, 2020|
Leading the News
Index Names California, Massachusetts As Nation’s Most Innovative States
For the “second consecutive year, California and Massachusetts took the first and second spots” in Bloomberg ’s (6/22, Hagan, Lu) annual State Innovation Index. The ranking is “based on six equally weighted metrics: research and development intensity, productivity, clusters of companies in technology, STEM jobs, residents with degrees in science and engineering disciplines and patent activity.” According to New York University Stern School of Business economist Paul Romer, the states’ success “dates back more than 150 years ago with the creation of land-grant universities under the Morrill Act.”
State Schools See Enrollment Rise As Students Stay Closer To Home During Coronavirus Crisis
The New York Times (6/22, Hartocollis) reports state-funded universities have “always striven to keep their states’ brightest students at home, knowing that many of those who leave their communities will never return.” Now, as the pandemic “erodes the economy and civil unrest sweeps the country, colleges are seeing renewed success in their efforts to reverse years of brain drain, with students responding to a new focus on basics, like family and community, over prestige.” This spring, for instance, “10 public college and university presidents dreamed up the New Jersey Scholar Corps, their version of a pandemic Peace Corps.” And at “one of the 10, Montclair State University, 16 students applied to transfer back from out of state, and half have accepted offers of admission, with others in the works.”
Several Colleges May Not Refund Students’ Fall Housing Costs If Campuses Remain Closed
Education Dive (6/22) reports at least two colleges – the University of South Florida and Western Carolina University – have “said they won’t necessarily refund students’ housing costs if the pandemic causes residence halls to shut down this fall.” The move “angered the public and higher ed professionals, some of whom said the institutions weren’t being conscious of the current financial strain on students and their families.” And students who asked for their tuition money back “argued they weren’t receiving the full educational experience they paid for.”
New Working Paper Models Spread Of COVID-19 In Large University Setting
Inside Higher Ed (6/22) reports “questions about the fall – whether to open campuses, how to deal with residence halls – have been swirling since instruction first went remote in March.” Now, a new working paper from “professors at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania models the spread of COVID-19 in a large university setting to examine what mitigation efforts are most effective against the spread of the disease.” In the “absence of any intervention at all, the model suggests that all susceptible community members would acquire COVID-19 by the end of the semester, with peak infection rates between 20 and 40 days into the semester, even if the semester begins with no infections.”
States Have Yet To Require Colleges To Test Every Student, Faculty Member For COVID-19
Inside Higher Ed (6/22) reports many higher education leaders, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Republican from Tennessee who “chairs the Senate’s education committee, have said testing is key to not only containing the spread of the virus as campuses reopen but to reassuring students it’s safe to come back.” But despite the “concerns of Connecticut college leaders and warnings from public health officials, including the top infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Diego, no state thus far has required colleges to test everybody. One factor in why states aren’t going that far is cost.”
All Ivy League Schools Temporarily Suspending Standardized Testing Requirement
In continuing coverage, CNBC (6/22, Hess) reports the coronavirus pandemic has made “in-person testing difficult (if not impossible) for many college applicants and colleges across the country are pausing standardized testing requirements – including Princeton University.” The college’s recent decision “means that all eight Ivy League schools will temporarily not require standardized testing next year as well as other prestigious schools such as Caltech and Stanford University.” Princeton is also “getting rid of its early-admission deadline, which means all applicants will be considered during the regular admission process whose deadline is January 1, 2021.”
Amid Pandemic, Thousands Of Los Angeles Community College Students Withdrew From Spring Classes
The Los Angeles Times (6/22) reports on the “struggles of many students in the nation’s largest community college system during their final months of the academic year.” Data from the Los Angeles Community College District “show that online learning hindered the trajectory of many students.” In fact, “more than 32,000 students withdrew from classes in spring 2020, compared with about 27,000 in spring 2019 – a 17% increase.”
Two Black UVA Scholars Appealing Negative Tenure Decisions Over Allegedly Flawed Processes
Inside Higher Ed (6/22) reports even though “no one is guaranteed tenure,” two black scholars at the University of Virginia who are “appealing negative tenure decisions say their processes were significantly flawed, and that the work they were hired to do appears to have counted against them in the end.” Beyond flawed processes, the “accounts raise questions about possible racial bias on the part of all-white tenure committees and other key evaluators.”
Speculation Abounds About How California Public Universities Will Fare If Affirmative Action Ban Is Repealed
EdSource (6/22) reports as the “movement to repeal the state ban on affirmative action reaches a crucial decision point, speculation is rising about the possible long-term impact on the enrollment of various racial and ethnic groups and low-income students at California’s public universities.” Legislation to “reverse the ban was approved by the state Assembly earlier this month and is awaiting action by the State Senate, where it needs a two-thirds approval by Thursday.” The proposed amendment’s supporters “clearly hope that the number of black and Latino university students will rise at the University of California and the California State University,” but they say they “do not seek any set percentages of ethnic minorities enrolling.” Opponents, however, say they “fear the measure will lead to a drastic reduction in the number of Asian American students at UC’s nine undergraduate campuses.”
Opinion: Online Platforms May Eventually “Unbundle” Prevailing Model Of Higher Education
In a piece published by The Atlantic (6/22), a professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University says when “massively open online courses first appeared, making free classes available to anyone with internet access, universities reflexively dismissed the threat.” But over the past “10 years, the technology has improved greatly” and this past semester, the pandemic “transformed distance learning from a quaint side product that few elite schools took seriously to a central part of our degree-granting programs.” Michael D. Smith “needs no convincing of the value of campus life and in-classroom education” and concedes that the “transition is likely to appear first in technical degree programs.” Ultimately, however, its “influence will be felt at every level in the academy, and across nearly all degree programs.”
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Actions ASEE is taking in support of Black Lives Matter
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Research and Development
Oak Ridge Using $20M Grant To Become One Of The World’s Premier Research Centers
The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (6/17) reported the Oak Ridge Institute, in “partnership with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, announced today a $20 million federal grant designed to make the institute one of the world’s premier research centers.” The institute will “focus on advancing research in several areas, including materials science, artificial intelligence and data sciences.” It will also “expand graduate programs at UT and create more opportunities for UT students and faculty to conduct groundbreaking research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”
Botanisol Analytics Develops Rapid COVID-19 Diagnostic
The Arizona Daily Star (6/20, Wichner) reported Botanisol Analytics, in collaboration with the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the Precision Diagnostics Lab at Harvard University, has been “developing spectrometers to detect disease pathogens under a $1.5 million research contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory.” With “additional funding, the company plans to field coronavirus screeners this fall,” explained founder and UA alumnus David Talenfeld. The “spectrometer developed by Botanisol Analytics can deliver COVID-19 results in 2 to 10 minutes, and a next-generation system will be faster.”
Washington University Scientists’ Newly-Created Fuel Cells Produce More Voltage
CleanTechnica (6/20) reported on new research coming out of the school of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. Scientists Vijay Ramani, Shrihari Sankarasubramanian, and Zhongyang Wang have been “studying fuel cells that operate on sodium borohydride, a liquid fuel that does not need to be pressurized the way hydrogen does, eliminating one of the most troublesome aspects of conventional fuel cells. The best part is the fuel cell they have developed produces twice the voltage – 1.4 volts – of hydrogen fuel cells.”
China Launches Final Satellite For Beidou-3 Network
Reuters (6/23) reports that on Tuesday, China “successfully put into orbit the final satellite of its Beidou navigation network, rival to the U.S.-owned GPS.” The Beidou-3 satellite “is the 35th and final satellite of the Chinese navigation system – an estimated $10 billion project.”
The AP (6/22) reports that the launch took place from Xichang, China, “shortly before 10 a.m. About half an hour later, the satellite was deployed in orbit and extended its solar panels to provide its energy.”
SPACE (6/22, Howell) reports that China’s Beidou program started in the 1990s, “with the first satellite launching in October 2000.” The Beidou-3 system’s “satellites have ‘higher bandwidth, enabling enhanced communication capability and carrying more accurate...atomic clocks to improve the precision of timing and navigation services’ when compared to their BDS-2 predecessors, according to a report by China’s Global Times.” The Beidou-3 “system began operations in 2018, but this latest launch will improve the signal strength and coverage for users around the world, according to the report.”
Spaceflight Now (6/23, Clark) reports that “the final Beidou satellite to round out the Chinese navigation network was built by” the China Academy of Space Technology. The satellite’s design is “based on the DFH-3B satellite platform.”
SpaceX’s Launch Of Falcon 9 Rocket Pushed To Thursday
Florida Today (6/22, Joy) reports that the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for Tuesday, has been moved to Thursday at 4:39 p.m. from the Kennedy Space Center. The “delay moves the launch closer to worsening weather,” as the 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron “predicts a 40% ‘go’ for Thursday.” For the launch, the rocket will be carrying a batch of SpaceX Starlink satellites, and two BlackSky microsatellites.
CNET News (6/22, Mack) reports that Thursday’s launch will be the 11th for SpaceX in 2020, and the company’s “12th launch of the year [is] tentatively planned for the following Tuesday.” SpaceX plans to complete 38 launches this year, which would top the 21 launches the company completed in 2018 – its most active year.
Bombardier Looks To Align Aviation Production With Demand
Aviation International News (6/22) reports that during Bombardier’s annual shareholders meeting held late last week, Bombardier CEO Eric Martel “outlined a six-point plan to boost the company’s business that has included the alignment of its business aircraft production with demand and increased outreach in the aftermarket segment.” Martel “expressed confidence in achieving the company’s goal of establishing clear and predictable performance.” The “objective of aligning Bombardier’s aviation production with market demand is designed to not only manage through the crisis but to position the group to be more profitable and make it a steadier cash-flow generating business, he added.” Bombardier also “has established as another objective ‘vigorously pursuing business aviation aftermarket growth opportunities.’”
Hyundai Motor Group, LG Chem Partner For EV Startup Contest
Reuters (6/22) reports Hyundai Motor Group and LG Chem Ltd “on Monday launched a global contest to identify up to 10 electric vehicle and battery startups for potential investment and development of environment-friendly automobiles.” The companies “aim to select startups with technological capabilities to help the development of future non-polluting cars through the competition, called ‘EV and Battery Challenge’.” Hyundai Motor Group “has earlier said it plans to deploy 44 eco-friendly automobiles by 2025, including 23 electric vehicles.” LG Chem recently “was chosen here as one of the battery suppliers for Hyundai Motor Group’s upcoming new electric vehicles.”
Engineering and Public Policy
House Democrats Propose Infrastructure Bill With Significant Clean Energy Provisions
The Washington Examiner (6/22, Smith) reports in continuing coverage that House Democrats released on Monday the text for their proposed $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act, an infrastructure bill that would extended solar and wind energy tax credits for six years and extend incentives for offshore wind and carbon capture. The bill “would also create an incentive for energy storage, waste energy technologies, and qualifying biogas projects.” In addition, the bill would “allow renewable energy developers to receive their tax credits as direct payments, a step the industry has requested from Congress for months to help maintain funding for projects during the virus-related economic downturn.”
The Hill (6/22, Frazin) reports the bill “would also restrict the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail and create a grant program aimed at reducing consumption of a class of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS.”
Nevada To Adopt California Emissions Standards
The Los Angeles (CA) Times (6/22, Phillips) reports Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced on Monday that Nevada will adopt California’s stricter emissions standards and add new regulations aimed at increasing the number of electric and alternative fuel vehicles in the state. The Times reports the announcement follows new fuel efficiency standards introduced by the EPA and the US Department of Transportation. Sisolak said in a statement, “Now more than ever, it is critical for Nevada to continue accelerating efforts to address climate change including capturing the many benefits of sustainable transportation options for Nevadans.” The Times reports California was granted the authority to set pollution standards stricter than those of the EPA in the Clean Air Act, but the Trump Administration revoked that authority, leading to a lawsuit involving California “and nearly two dozen” other states.
The Associated Press (6/22) reports Sisolak’s “Clean Cars Nevada” aims to have electric vehicles account for between six and eight percent of the vehicles offered for sale in the state by 2025. Sisolak said, “This kind of decisive action is the first of many steps we will be taking as part of my commitment to addressing climate change under the State of Nevada Climate Initiative.” The Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal (6/22) reports similarly.
Airports, Unions Ask Federal Government To Require Masks
Fox News (6/22, Bartiromo) reports that Airports Council International for North America CEO Kevin Burke said at a hearing of the House Homeland Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security that his group would support a federal rule requiring passengers to wear masks on planes and at airports. Burke told the subcommittee that social distancing will remain a challenge when people are lined up at gates or security, and, “I can’t emphasize that enough, where we would welcome regulations on a temporary basis, that you should wear a mask in an airport, when you’re transferring through it. If in fact you have to wear it on an airplane, then you should be wearing it during your trip through the airport.”
President Trump Backs Second Round Of Direct Aid
Reuters (6/22, Heavey) reports in a very brief item that President Trump said Monday that he “supported the idea of giving Americans a second round of financial aid amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.” Trump told Scripps Networks “that he backed sending out a second check. ‘We will be doing another stimulus package’ with Congress, he added, saying the bipartisan measure would come ‘over the next couple of weeks probably.’”
AP Poll: 63% Say Economy Is “Poor”
The AP (6/22, Boak, Swanson) reports that according to a new AP-NORC poll, “Americans’ outlook on the national economy has improved somewhat from its lowest points during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, but...Democrats and Republicans are living in alternate economic realities amid the sharpest recession in the nation’s history. Eighty-five percent of Democrats call economic conditions ‘poor,’ while 65% of Republicans describe them as ‘good.’” Overall, 63 percent of respondents say “the economy is in poor shape, down somewhat from the 70% who felt that way in May.”
Sixth Grade STEM Class Wins UC Davis’ RoboPlay Competition
The Amador (CA) Ledger-Dispatch (6/20, Dispatch) reported “overcoming unforeseen challenges, technical difficulties and distance learning, Pine Grove STEM Elementary School’s sixth grade class came out on top, picked as a favorite entry in UC Davis’ RoboPlay competition.” With the kids’ skills to “dictate the robots’ movements with coding to tell a story, and with the help” of Pine Grove teacher Tim Keys, “school staff and school board members’ support, costumes, backgrounds and props were coordinated for each production.” Keys felt a “surge of pride for his students’ work upon discovering ‘Lynx’s Tale,’ created by his students Nick Tracy, Jayden Stone-Frerking, Destiny Landron and Parker March, had been selected as one of the favorite submissions in the RoboPlay competition.”
Monday's Lead Stories
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