|Good morning || June 25, 2020|
Leading the News
Automakers Optimistic Despite Major Decline In Sales
The New York Times (6/24, Boudette) reports that while “a rebound in the auto industry would probably help the economy,” sales “will be down sharply this year.” Consulting firm AlixPartners “expects sales of new vehicles to fall about 19 percent this year, to 13.7 million. Experts worry that a surge in coronavirus cases in places like Arizona, Florida and Texas could drop sales further as more people stay home to avoid getting sick or making others ill.” Still, “automakers and car dealers say they are feeling optimistic because sales of new cars to individuals and families, the industry’s main customer base, have rebounded strongly.”
Universities Investing In Coronavirus Mitigation Measures For When Students Return To Campus
The Wall Street Journal (6/24, Korn, Subscription Publication) reports colleges and universities in the US have been investing in plexiglass barriers, face masks, and hand sanitizer stations to better prepare for potentially allowing students to return to campus at some point for the 2020-21 school year. These investments have already reached millions of dollars in spending.
Survey: Pandemic Exacerbating Higher Ed’s Biggest Challenges
Inside Higher Ed (6/24) reports the “biggest challenges facing higher education have not changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey of public college leaders says.” Instead, the challenges have been “exacerbated and have taken on a new urgency.” More than three-quarters of those who responded to the survey conducted by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities “reported government funding is a ‘big challenge’ for their institutions.” Student “mental health and well-being, issues of diversity and inclusion, and affordability” are also considered formidable issues, Education Dive (6/24) reports.
Colorado Colleges Now Allowed To Offer In-Person Instruction At Reduced Capacity
Chalkbeat Colorado (6/24) reports under new state guidance, “colleges and universities can immediately offer in-person instruction for every class as long as they limit attendance to 50% capacity per room, up to 50 people.” Schools also might be “allowed to accommodate up to 100 total people in a room depending on its size – such as an event hall over 11,300 square feet.” The new policy is an “incremental change from April guidance that said only programs that needed to be taught in person were allowed to meet in person.”
Officials Concerned About Recent Spike Of Coronavirus Cases Among University Of South Carolina Students
The Chronicle of Higher Education (6/24) reports fall classes “aren’t scheduled to begin until August at the University of South Carolina at Columbia,” but officials are “already worried about a recent spike in coronavirus cases among students.” The president, Robert L. Caslen, “attributed the cases – an increase of 79 in eight days – to off-campus gatherings in nearby neighborhoods and bars.” Such an outbreak “underscores a harsh reality for colleges as they plan for the fall semester: They can do only so much to control student behavior, especially when students leave the campus.”
Liberty University Reassessing Its Approach To Race, Diversity
The AP (6/24, Schor, Rankin) reports as the nation “wrestles with how to do more for racial equality, Liberty University – a school whose leadership has said it doesn’t have a problem – is facing its own tough questions.” Jerry Falwell Jr., who leads the “prominent evangelical Christian university, apologized this month after posting a tweet invoking the blackface scandal that engulfed Virginia’s governor last year.” But Falwell’s “rare show of contrition, which followed a rebuke from nearly three dozen Black Liberty alumni, has left many African American students, alumni and staff unconvinced of his interest in helping the school live up to its promises about diversity.”
Students Call Out UMiss For Being Less Than Transparent About Its Decision To Relocate Confederate Statue
Diverse Issues in Higher Education (6/24) reports many students, faculty and staff “who have been campaigning” for the removal of a Confederate statue at the University of Mississippi believe the school “misrepresented” its decision last week. The university said it is “moving the statue from its prominent place on campus to a cemetery on campus that houses Confederate soldiers’ graves.” But what it “didn’t say was that the statue was going to be at the center of a newly renovated cemetery with enhanced lighting that illuminates a brick path to the statue,” according to local media.
Opinion: Potential Post-Pandemic Loss Of HBCUs Would Be “Tragic”
In a piece published by The Conversation (6/24, Price), a professor of economics at the University of New Orleans says schools that were “already financially fragile before” the emergence of COVID-19 and “economic recession began could soon face even greater risks.” That “includes several historically Black colleges and universities,” according to Gregory N. Price. While critics may “argue that some of these 10 HBCUs don’t serve students well,” Price believes the “potential loss of these schools would be tragic.”
Dual-Enrollment Academies Proliferating Across South Texas
Continuing its series on how community colleges in Texas are “innovating to address pressures facing two-year schools nationwide,” Education Dive (6/24) focuses on South Texas College’s selective Medical Science Academy, a “dual-enrollment program for high-achieving local high school students.” It’s also “one way the institution is hoping to build a college-going culture in the Rio Grande Valley.” The article goes on to point out that dual-enrollment academies and other programs are “one of the reasons South Texas had more dual-enrollment students than any other institution in the state in 2019, according to data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.”
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Actions ASEE is taking in support of Black Lives Matter
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Webinar: Emerging Insights on Remote Instruction
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Accreditation and Professional Development
Poll: Quarter Of American Adults Plan To Enroll In Education Or Training Program Within Six Months
Inside Higher Ed (6/24) reports as the pandemic “wreaks havoc on the job market, a quarter of American adults say they plan to enroll in an education or training program within the next six months,” according to a poll conducted by the Strada Education Network. But the survey also found “most of the workers who said they would change fields if they lost their job due to the pandemic (35 percent of all respondents) are more interested in nondegree skills training (62 percent) than pursuing a college degree (38 percent).” In addition, investigators discovered that “black and Latino Americans have absorbed the most economic pain from the pandemic so far, with disproportionate losses of jobs and pay.”
Research and Development
New York Should Construct New Bike- And Pedestrian-Only Bridge, Engineers Suggest
Business Insider (6/24, Levin) reports “cycling has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent months” as more people eschew public transportation in fear of contracting coronavirus. Cities across the US have “moved rapidly to absorb the flood of new riders by designating temporary bike lanes, slowing speed limits, and closing off streets to traffic.” But a new proposal for New York City “seeks to make some grander and more permanent bike-friendly changes.” The plan – which comes from a “consortium of engineers led by transit consultant and former New York City traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz – calls for New York to construct a new bike- and pedestrian-only bridge connecting Long Island City in Queens to Midtown Manhattan.”
Study: Scores Of Android Apps Aimed At Children Are Gathering, Sharing Their Data
KXAN-TV Austin, TX (6/24) reports a new “study out of the University of Texas at Dallas found 72 out of 100 Android apps aimed at children are gathering and sharing their data, a violation of the Children’s Online Protection and Privacy Act.” Among the apps in question are Angry Birds and the Little Panda series of games. Doctor Kanad Basu, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at UTD, and his “fellow researchers uncovered the data with a tool they developed called COPPTCHA.” The tool “looks for fingerprints in the phone’s hardware that have been left behind after an app transmits data.”
NCSU-Led Project Focused On Standardizing Detection Of Presence Of Coronavirus In Sewage
The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer (6/23) reports in a “project led by researchers at North Carolina State University could help cities prepare” to reopen by “alerting them to the presence of the coronavirus in sewage, a sign that infected people are shedding the virus in body fluids.” Francis de los Reyes is leading a team with his NCSU colleagues as “well as collaborators from universities in Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington, DC, sampling wastewater in their cities.” The goal is to “standardize the methods used to analyze and report on the virus, in a way that can work for a variety of treatment systems and populations.”
NASA Astronauts Cassidy, Behnken Plan To Conduct Space Walk On Friday
CBS News (6/24, Harwood) reports that NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken plan to complete a space walk on Friday from the ISS, “for the first of up to four spacewalks needed to complete the replacement of aging batteries in the lab’s solar power system.” NASA managers “hope to get the work done in time for Behnken and crewmate Douglas Hurley to return to Earth aboard their Crew Dragon capsule by around Aug. 2, officials said Wednesday.” An early August “splashdown for the SpaceX capsule would give engineers time to thoroughly evaluate the spacecraft’s first piloted test flight, known as Demo 2, before clearing the decks for an operational, full-duration mission with four astronauts in the mid-September timeframe.”
CNN (6/24, Strickland) reports that the space walk will start at 7:35 a.m. ET, and will last for nearly seven hours. The space walk will be Cassidy’s seventh and Behnken’s eighth. Behnken recently discussed the importance of replacing the batteries in an interview where he said, “When the space station is in the sun, it’s collecting energy...it needs to store for when it’s in the dark. ... And so those batteries, as they’re cycled time and time again, they wear down and need to be replaced.”
Companies Need To Focus More On Supporting Female Employees, Says Girls Who Code COO
Building a “diverse and inclusive workplace goes far beyond hiring,” according to the chief operating officer of Girls Who Code. “Especially when it comes to hiring women,” said Dr. Tarika Barrett, who is also a member the CNBC (6/24, de León) Technology Executive Council. Dr. Barrett believes that “companies need to focus more on supporting women once they’re in the door, whether that’s through pay equity and promotions or more flexible policies for employees who are caregivers.”
Ford Promises To Hit Carbon Neutral By 2050
Digital Trends (6/24) reports Ford has promised to reach carbon neutral status by 2050. The automaker “said that they are investing more than $11.5 billion in making more electric vehicles through 2022 as well as plans to power all of its manufacturing plants with renewable energy by 2035 on Wednesday, June 24.” In order to reach that promise, Ford will “focus on vehicle use, supply base, and company facilities, which the company said accounts for about 95% of CO2 emissions.” Ford VP and Chief Sustainability, Environment and Safety Officer Bob Holycross said, “We can develop and make great vehicles, sustain and grow a strong business and protect our planet at the same time – in fact, those ideals complement each other. ... We don’t have all the answers yet but are determined to work with all of our global and local partners and stakeholders to get there.”
The Hill (6/24, Beitsch), and The Verge (6/24) also report.
NHTSA Launches Investigation Into Tesla Model S Touchscreen Failures
Reuters (6/24, Shepardson) reports NHTSA said Tuesday that it has launched an investigation into 63,000 Tesla Model S cars after they reportedly suffered “media-control unit failures” resulting in the loss of the use of touchscreens. NHTSA said that the investigation, which covers 2012-2015 model year vehicles, comes after it received 11 complaints over the issue.
The AP (6/24) reports that while the touch-screen failures impede the use of features such as infotainment, navigation and web browsing and also cause the air conditioning to default to auto mode, braking, steering and other control systems are not impacted, according to NHTSA.
Bloomberg (6/24, Beene) reports that according to the NHTSA notice, the flash memory in a processor made by Nvidia can wear out and cause the computer controlling the screen to fail prematurely. Bloomberg adds that even though the same computer and processor are used in approximately 159,000 vehicles between 2012-2018, the NHTSA investigation is confined to 63,000 2012-2015 model year Model S vehicles.
Business Insider (6/24, Rapier) reports that according to the NHTSA, no injuries or accidents have been reported as a result of this issue. Business Insider adds that the agency may issue a notice to recall the vehicles after investigating the “scope, frequency, and safety consequences” of the alleged defects.
Also reporting are Forbes (6/24, Roberson), TechCrunch (6/24), The Verge (6/24), Car and Driver (6/24), Roadshow (6/24, Szymkowski).and Jalopnik (6/24).
Tesla Ranks Last In JD Power Quality Survey
NBC News (6/24) reports that in a survey of 32 car brands by the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Tesla was ranked dead last, while Dodge was ranked number one. Based on the study, Tesla’s “average 250 problems per 100 vehicles” reported by its owners was almost twice the number of those who own Dodge vehicles. NBC News says that Tesla’s poor ranking “echoes widespread concern about quality problems that have long nagged Tesla” and it comes as the NHTSA launches an investigation into touch-screen failures in 63,000 of its Model S vehicles.
Also reporting is Electrek (6/24).
Engineering and Public Policy
IMF Predicts U.S. GDP Will Drop Eight Percent This Year
The AP (6/24, Crutsinger) reports that the International Monetary Fund “has sharply lowered its forecast for global growth this year because it envisions far more severe economic damage from the coronavirus than it did just two months ago.” According to the AP, the IMF “predicts that the global economy will shrink 4.9% this year, significantly worse than the 3% drop it had estimated in its previous report in April.” The AP adds, “For the United States, it predicts that the nation’s gross domestic product – the value of all goods and services produced in the United States – will plummet 8% this year, even more than its April estimate of a 5.9% drop.” The New York Times (6/24, Rappeport) reports that overall, the IMF “expects that the cumulative loss of total output for the global economy this year and next year will top $12 trillion.”
Businesses, Politicians Worry About Potential Second Wave Of Coronavirus Cases
The Wall Street Journal (6/24, A1, Eaton, Subscription Publication) reports businesses across the economy are debating whether or not they must remain physically closed or attempt some version of a hybrid reopening as coronavirus cases continue to rise in dozens of states. Political leaders have also expressed concern about a possible second wave of infections.
Also in the News
NASA Names HQ Building After Engineer Mary W. Jackson
The Washington Post (6/24, Davenport) reports that NASA “will name its headquarters building Mary W. Jackson, the first female African American engineer at the space agency, who as one of the ‘Hidden Figures’ overcame rampant racial discrimination and gender bias to help propel the agency at the dawn of the Space Age, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday.” The “news came the same day some in the space industry began to push NASA to change the name of” the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, which is named after former Mississippi Sen. John C. Stennis, “a segregationist who opposed racial equality and the integration of schools.”
CBS News (6/24, Lewis) reports that in 1958, Jackson became NASA’s first female African-American engineer, which opened up “opportunities for countless women of color in STEM who followed in her footsteps.” She “retired in 1985 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019, along with her ‘Hidden Figures’ colleagues” Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden.
ABC News (6/24, Pereira) reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement, “NASA facilities across the country are named after people who dedicated their lives to push the frontiers of the aerospace industry. The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation.”
Wednesday's Lead Stories
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