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Leading the News
Survey: Enrollment Falls At More Than Half Of US Colleges Amid Pandemic
Education Dive (10/9, Busta) reported that “slightly more than half of nearly 300 college presidents surveyed in September by the American Council on Education (ACE) say their campuses’ enrollment is lower this fall than a year ago, with community college executives reporting decreases the most.” Thirty-one percent “of private four-year college presidents said they enrolled more students this fall, compared to 15% of public four-year and 10% of public two-year leaders.” Some 70% “of four-year college execs reported decreased international student enrollment.”
College Presidents Talk Five Worries Amid Pandemic. The Chronicle of Higher Education (10/12) reports that “it’s a bleak time to be a college leader in America – and a new survey of nearly 300 presidents suggests that as the pandemic wears on, many are simply focused on their institution’s survival.” The American Council on Education, “in conjunction with the TIAA Institute, reached out to presidents September 14-22 and asked them to identify their most pressing concerns.” The survey’s top findings are that “campus mental health is the No. 1 worry,” financial “viability is in question,” enrollments “are down, but maybe not yet at the bottom,” layoffs “are the new harsh reality,” and “revenues are dwindling, and pandemic costs are rising.”
Colleges Stuck Paying For Expensive COVID-19 Containment Plans, Even If They Don’t Work
Inside Higher Ed (10/9, Whitford) reported that “many colleges and universities dug deep into their budgets to test, surveil, isolate, mask and distance their students and employees this fall in an effort to proceed with in-person instruction.” Most have “spent tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars on testing, personal protective equipment and other COVID-19 prevention measures.” Some “have so far kept widespread infections at bay.” Others “have been forced to halt in-person instruction and services for weeks at a time.” Still others “experienced largely uncontrolled campus outbreaks and pivoted to all-remote instruction for the bulk of the semester.” Those institutions “are still stuck with a significant bill for just a few weeks of in-person instruction.”
Education Leaders Worry About Impact Second Trump Term Would Have On Higher Education
Inside Higher Ed (10/12, Murakami) reports that “higher ed leaders worry that one of the impacts on colleges and universities should Trump be elected to a second term would be more of the same.” Said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government relations. “I suspect what we’ll see is what we’ve seen over the past year – an increased focus on populism with attacks on ‘elites. More micromanagement through heavy-handed executive orders.” However, “in other areas, it’s less clear what a second term would bring.” The Education Department would not comment on what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s “higher education priorities might be in a second term, despite the array of issues facing higher education, including the high drop-out rate this fall of low-income students. Or even if she plans on being around.”
Colleges Try to Ease Students’ Fears, Anxieties In Quarantine
The Chronicle of Higher Education (10/10) reported that “colleges are trying to support students in on-campus quarantine.” Beyond just providing “a list of mental-health resources, they’re adding points of human contact, even if not in person.” They’re planning safe workouts “and, in a few cases, limited outdoor time.” They’re creating “support groups to help students feel more connected – and to help their parents feel better, too.” At some colleges, “hundreds of students have been sent to quarantine and isolation housing this semester.” Thanks to contact tracing, “a student who tests positive for COVID-19 often lands several close contacts there, too.”
Poor College Students Face Financial Strain From Pandemic
The New York Times (10/12, A1, Levin) reports on its front page that in the face of “the financial hardships of the pandemic and the technological hurdles of online learning, the millions of low-income college students across America face mounting obstacles in their quests for higher education.” The Times adds that while “some have simply dropped out,” others “are left scrambling to find housing and internet access amid campus closures and job losses.”
Vulnerable College Students At Risk Of Homelessness Amid Pandemic
The New Yorker (10/10, Caplan-Bricker) reports that “this fall, most discussion of college students has revolved around the risks that they pose to others: the unchecked transmission at illicit parties, the campus outbreaks that could sow death in college towns.” To date, “the Times reports that at least a hundred and seventy-eight thousand coronavirus cases have been linked to institutions of higher education.” Reopened campuses “present obvious dangers, but shuttered dorms and dining halls create a more acute crisis for a smaller number of students, depriving them of stable housing, regular meals, and the broadband they need to attend virtual classes.”
Colleges Look To Cut Academic Programs Amid Pandemic
The Washington Times (10/9, Vondracek) reported that “a growing number of schools – from Ithaca College in New York to a liberal arts school in rural Nebraska – are announcing expected cuts to their academic programs, including faculty positions within mainstays of the post-secondary curricula, such as humanities, gender studies and computer science departments.” A top official “at Ithaca announced at a faculty meeting Tuesday that roughly 130 teaching contracts would be ‘nonrenewed’ at year’s end, according to the Ithacan, the school’s student newspaper.” The school “reports that nearly 1,000 fewer students are enrolled this fall than last autumn, from 6,266 students to 5,354.”
Coronavirus Pandemic Puts Resident Advisers In Charge Of Enforcing College Health Guidelines
The Wall Street Journal (10/9, Pohle, Subscription Publication) reported that at Arizona State University dorms this fall, resident advisors are enforcing mask wearing and limiting guests in residence rooms. The more than 300 community assistants are primarily upperclassmen who, before the coronavirus pandemic spent their time patrolling for underage alcohol and solving roommate issues. However, this year, many advisers say they are now also receiving questions about navigating the school’s health system.
WPost Provides Oral History Of University Of Virginia’s First Weeks Amid Pandemic
The Washington Post (10/11) publishes the story about the first few tumultuous weeks of reopening campus at the University of Virginia “as told by new college students, a second-year, resident advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for their jobs, three school officials and the university’s coronavirus dashboard, which tracks quarantines and virus cases since Aug. 17.” UVA President Jim Ryan is quoted in the article as saying, “This is the first time through a pandemic for all of us on a college campus. We did do an awful lot of planning, but we also went into it realizing and saying that we were gonna have to be ready and willing to adapt based on what we were seeing.”
University of Maine System Will Use $240 Million Grant To Launch Multi-University Engineering College
Education Dive (10/9) reported the University of Maine System “will receive $240 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation,” of which $75 million has been earmarked for a new College of Engineering, Computing and Information Sciences. The grant money “comes just a few months after the U of Maine System’s accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education, approved a proposal for its seven institutions to be accredited as a single entity rather than individually.”
George Washington University To Hold Spring Semester Online
The Washington Post (10/9, Lumpkin) reported that George Washington University “will conduct most classes virtually next semester, officials announced Friday.” Many universities “have been hoping to make a quick return to normal since the novel coronavirus upended classes this past spring.” However, “as pandemic continues to rage, GWU officials said classes will remain online through the end of the school year.”
Research: College Reopening Plans Correlated Strongly With State Politics
The Chronicle of Higher Education (10/12) reports that “institutional decisions about whether to reopen colleges in-person this fall correlated most strongly with state politics, not the regional public-health conditions that campus leaders said were front and center in their considerations, new research suggests.” The finding, “from a pre-peer-review research and policy brief published by the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, reveals that both public and private institutions in Republican-led states were less likely to say in early August they would operate online this fall.”
New Prism Magazine Online
Our cover story, "A Virtual Reality" examines how engineering educators find creative substitutes for in-person labs and other hands-on learning experiences. This story and more, at the Prism online site.
Three-Minute Survey: ASEE Webinars
Have three minutes to spare? Help ASEE improve our member services by providing feedback about valuable online content.
Conference Report on Increasing Participation of Minority-Serving Institutions in the NSF CISE Core Programs
This new meeting report details outcomes from an event that assembled 90 MSI faculty to learn about increasing the number and competitiveness of their proposals to NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Core Programs.
Webinar: Supporting Underrepresented Engineering Students in the Time of COVID-19 - Oct. 22 at 2 PM, ET
Explore how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting traditionally underrepresented students in engineering and how faculty and administrators can better support these students, sharing preliminary insights and lessons learned from two NSF RAPID grants. Register Now!
Webinar: Supporting Engineering Graduate Students in the Time of COVID-19 - Nov. 5 at 1 PM, ET
This free webinar will explore how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting engineering graduate students and how faculty and administrators can better support these students, sharing preliminary insights and lessons learned from three NSF RAPID grants. Register now!
Research and Development
As Sensors, Computer Vision Improve, Prospects For “Robots As A Service” Rise
TechCrunch (10/8, Gibson) reported that in recent decades, “robotics market commentaries have predicted a shift, particularly in manufacturing, from traditional industrial manipulators to a new generation of mobile, sensing robots, called ‘cobots,’” which are “agile assistants that use internal sensors and AI processing to operate tools or manipulate components in a shared workspace, while maintaining safety.” This rollout has trailed expectations, with cobots making up only 3% of the “total industrial robots installed” in 2019. Conversely, “developments in 3D vision and so-called ‘robots as a service’ (yes, RaaS) are defining this faster-growing second generation of robots that can work alongside humans.”
Cryptographers In Competition To Develop Algorithms That Can Repel Quantum-Computing Cyberattacks
The Wall Street Journal (10/7, Castellanos, Subscription Publication) reported hundreds of the world’s top cryptographers are involved in a competition to develop new encryption standards for the US, which would guard against both classical and quantum-computing cyberattacks. Chris Peikert, Associate Professor of Computer Science at University of Michigan, warned that unless better encryption is developed, a hacker with a powerful enough quantum computer could break many of the defenses currently used to protect the Internet.
NASA Spacecraft Locates Evidence Of Carbonates On Asteroid
Futurism (10/8) reported NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Oct. 20 “will attempt to collect some bits of material from the surface of Bennu, a small near-Earth asteroid about 500 meters across.” New research papers published Thursday suggest scientists “are expecting to find carbonates, material that is often deposited by water on Earth,” on the asteroid’s surface. Early readings from OSIRIS-REx’s visible and infrared spectrometer indicate “veins of carbonate” on Bennu’s surface. Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in a NASA statement, “The abundance of carbon-bearing material is a major scientific triumph for the mission.” In addition, “detailed gravity readings gleaned from the space rock’s orbit,” according to separate research led by Daniel Scheeres of University of Colorado Boulder, “also showed that Bennu is likely dotted with pockets of materials that vary significantly in density.”
Airbus Delivers 57 Jets In September
Bloomberg (10/9) reported that Airbus delivered 57 jets in September, which was the highest number of deliveries for the company in any month this year. The number compares to 39 deliveries in August and 49 in July. In September, Airbus “saw no new orders and three cancellations – a reminder of the downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that’s shown little sign of letting up.” Among those taking deliveries, Chinese “carriers, including Air China Ltd., China Southern Airlines Co. and China Eastern Airlines Corp., took possession of 18 jets during September.” Delta Air Lines Inc. “accepted two A350-900 and one A330-900 wide-bodies, along with an A321ceo.”
Reuters (10/9, Hepher) reported that the total number of deliveries for September is a 40% decrease from the same month last year. In the first nine months of 2020, Airbus has delivered 341 jets. In all of 2019, the company delivered 863 jets. Airbus “axed guidance at the outset of the pandemic but is internally targeting around 500 deliveries in 2020 and is three quarters of the way towards its goal, industry sources said.”
GE Says First Flight Of Catalyst Engine To Happen Soon, With First Delivery Scheduled For This Year
FlightGlobal (10/12, Perry) reports that GE Aviation “is nearing a maiden sortie of its Catalyst turboprop engine, delays to which have had a knock-on impact on Cessna’s in-development Denali.” The engine was scheduled to be tested “earlier this year aboard a Beechcraft King Air 350 twin-turboprop, but the event slipped.” GE “now says the milestone ‘will soon follow’ and delivery of the first engine to power the Denali ‘is planned for later this year.’” GE said, “To date, Catalyst has more than 1,800 hours of combined operation and 11 engines assembled.” The company “has previously promised that 10 test engines would be flying this year.”
Engineering and Public Policy
White House Urges Congress To Pass Stripped-Down Stimulus, Says Talks Will Continue
Reuters (10/11, Volcovici) reported, “The Trump administration on Sunday called on Congress to pass a stripped-down coronavirus relief bill using leftover funds from an expired small-business loan program, as negotiations on a broader package ran into resistance.” In a letter to lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows “said they would continue to talk to” House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer “to try to reach agreement on a comprehensive bill,” but they called on Congress to “immediately vote” on legislation to allow the use of the unused PPP funds. The Washington Post (10/11, Stein, Werner) reported the proposal “is unlikely to advance in the House,” where Pelosi “has rejected stand-alone legislation in favor of a comprehensive package to address the economic and health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.” USA Today (10/11, Wu) described “more mixed signals” from the Administration as the White House “seemed to both retreat from dealmaking while still expressing eagerness to strike one.”
The Wall Street Journal (10/11, Peterson, Duehren, Subscription Publication) reported Pelosi said negotiations with the Administration over a coronavirus aide were at a standstill on Sunday. In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi said the latest offer from the Administration did not provide sufficient funding and included no plan for testing, contract tracing, or treatment.
Senate GOP “Revolted” Over Administration’s $1.8T Offer. The New York Times (10/11, Cochrane) reported Senate Republicans “revolted over the contours of a $1.8 trillion relief proposal that is the Trump administration’s latest and largest offer to House Democrats, further jeopardizing already dim prospects for an agreement on a broad stimulus bill before Election Day.” While Pelosi “insisted that the offer remained inadequate, many Republican senators lashed into the administration’s approach to the revived negotiations during a conference call on Saturday morning between close to half of the chamber’s Republicans and top administration officials.”
Federal Reserve Bank Of Minneapolis President: Recovery Has “Flattened Out,” More Fiscal Support Is Needed
The Washington Post (10/11, Bull) reported Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari says the recovery has “flattened out” and needs more support from fiscal policy. Kashkari told CBS’ Face The Nation, “We’re going to continue to see a grinding, very slow recovery, with thousands of small businesses around the country going bankrupt. ... That’s why it’s so vital that our elected leaders come together to take more action.” Kashkari “said politics was complicating the process, but that the need for more help from Washington was clear.” He said, “Obviously we’re close to an election and I imagine that those things are getting involved in the dynamic. ... But if you look at the data the data is very clear. The strong recovery that we saw in June and July has really flattened out.” Bloomberg (10/11, Bull) provided similar coverage.
Amid Pandemic, Businesses In Difficult Position As Fourth Quarter Begins
The AP (10/11, Rosenberg) reported for small businesses, the final three months of the year look “precarious as the coronavirus maintains its grip on the economy.” The fourth quarter “is a key time for many industries and companies of all sizes. Some retailers typically expect to make as much as half their annual revenue during the holiday shopping season, as do many of their suppliers. ... But conditions are dicey this year.” Small businesses have been “devastated” by the pandemic and more “will likely go out of business if they cannot bring in the revenue they need.”
Educators Can Instill Confidence In Girls Interested In Coding
Roxanne Hughes, research faculty at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, writes in The Conversation (10/12) that it “doesn’t take long to help girls see a future for themselves in computer science, but it depends largely on how good their teachers are at recognizing the skills the girls have in coding.” Research from Hughes and her team “found that girls ages 10 to 12 can come to see themselves as coders in as little as a week.” They determined that “in order to develop a stronger coding identity, girls need to have opportunities to develop and perform coding skills. They also need to do so in front of people they view as experts and be recognized for those skills.” According to Hughes, “educators are key to not only teaching girls about coding or how to code but also instilling them with confidence of feeling that they belong and can succeed in the field.”
Friday's Lead Stories
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