Leading the News
UAV Usage Grows Among Louisiana’s Government And Corporate Organizations.
The Louisiana Weekly (2/5, Buchanan) reports that the New Orleans’ branch of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the state’s oil and gas industry and various law enforcement agencies within the state are using UAVs to complete various activities. Some of those activities include “coastal mapping and restoration, flood monitoring, wildlife surveys, crop management,” and inspecting and/or surveying property. Woolpert Inc. Chief Scientist Dr. Qassim Abdullah notes that even though “drones have been around for a long time...their usage has grown since the release of new rules by the FAA, known as Part 107.”
BMW Doubles Size Of Its Apprentice Program.
USA Today (2/5, Mitchell) reports that BMW has announced that it “is doubling the size of its apprentice mechanic program – dubbed ‘BMW Scholars’ – and is adding a fourth technical college to its stable of academic partners.” The automaker has 2,000 robots in its Greer, South Carolina facility, and “the assembly plant needs more men and women to keep the machines working.” The company is in need of what it calls “equipment service associates,” staff members that service the robots and “work around the clock and earn salaries that, with experience and overtime, can easily exceed six figures.” BMW Manufacturing Spokesman Steve Wilson emphasized the plant’s need for newly-trained workers, saying, “We have miles and miles of conveyors — in paint and assembly, but in the body shop, too. It’s keeping all of this running to make sure we can build 1,400 cars a day.” The expansion of the BMW Scholars Program “increases the total number of students in the two-year program to 200,” and, “in its history, the 7-year-old program has graduated 130 student technicians.” Wilson also noted that the program “holds the strong possibility of direct-hire contracts for its graduates – everyone who has completed the program to date has been offered a job.”
Senate Democrats Release Higher Education Act Reauthorization Wish List.
Inside Higher Ed (2/5) reports that Senate Democrats have issued a set of “principles” they say should form the basis of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, focusing on “college affordability, access for low-income students, safety on campuses and accountability for institutions.” The document follows on a report from the office of Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander that “suggested that a loan repayment rate measure would be more appropriate than the existing cohort default rate benchmark designed to put colleges on the hook for high student loan defaults.” Alexander’s paper “appeared to endorse dropping the 90-10 rule and the gainful-employment rule that targets poor-performing career education programs.”
ED Inspector General Warns Student Loan Program May Begin To Lose Money.
In continuing coverage, Inside Higher Ed (2/5) reports that ED’s Office of Inspector General has released an audit warning that “the increasing popularity of income-driven repayment plans for federal loans, as well as loan forgiveness programs, might soon lead to the federal government losing money on its huge student loan portfolio.” This report “builds on findings from a 2016 Government Accountability Office report, which revealed that the department had drastically underestimated the cost of income-driven repayment.”
Report: Millions Of Americans Lack Physical Access To Higher Education Institutions.
The Washington Post (2/2, Douglas-Gabriel) reports according to research from the Urban Institute, “3.1 million Americans live more than 25 miles from an open-access public college and lack a suitable Internet connection needed for online education.” This condition is more prevalent in rural and western parts of the US, “although nearly every state has pockets of physical, online or complete education deserts.”
Two NEW TUEE Reports
Read Phase II, "Insight from Tomorrow’s Engineers,” and Phase III, “Voices on Women’s Participation and Retention.”
The Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering project seeks to identify critical components of engineering curricula, pedagogy, and educational culture necessary to support the education of engineers over the next several decades. The project aims to catalyze change by building consensus within our community on a shared vision of the future of engineering education. Phase II was informed by students; Phase III focused on producing more women engineers. (The previously published Phase I focused on industry.)
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Research and Development
US Navy Takes Delivery Of “High Tech” MDUSV, Zumwalt Destroyer.
Maritime Executive (2/5) reports the US Navy has taken delivery of “two new high-tech additions to its fleet: the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV, ex names Sea Hunter, ACTUV) and the USS Michael Monsoor, the second of three Zumwalt-class destroyers.” ACTUV is a “140-ton, fiberglass-hulled trimaran with a unit cost of about $20 million” that features a “semi-autonomous navigation system that could one day allow it to operate without crew, reducing both risk and costs.” The $1.4 billion USS Michael Monsoor “features a complex integrated power system (IPS), which is designed to make the output of her giant gas turbines available for either propulsion or for advanced future energy weapons like railguns or lasers.” Monsoor is “headed for delivery in March and will be commissioned next year.”
Keysight Technologies Announces New Low-Frequency Noise Measurement Software.
Evaluation Engineering (2/5) reports, “Keysight Technologies today announced it has reached a new milestone in low-frequency noise measurements through its work with leading research centers in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India (EMEAI).” With its new software, “designers can now measure noise more accurately in an even broader range of electronic devices.”
NASA To Test New Technology For Tracking Supersonic Jets.
The Aerospace America (2/5, Stumpe) reports that NASA plans to conduct “two flight tests this year of an enhanced ADS-B radio-and-GPS device that could help a new generation of supersonic commercial jets meet an FAA mandate that will soon be imposed on aircraft in most controlled airspace.” Beginning in 2020, the FAA will require aircraft to be “equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out radios that broadcast a plane’s GPS position and identity,” but current commercial “ADS-B equipment would not be adequate to meet the FAA mandate if installed on supersonic aircraft.” Although the US has banned supersonic flights over land since 1973, “Congress has directed the FAA to study whether that restriction could be eased.” NASA Research Engineer Ricardo Arteaga believes that due to a “big push right now for supersonic operations,” there are “going to be a lot more” supersonic aircraft proposed moving forward. NASA Armstrong engineers have “designed a prototype ADB-S radio that broadcasts at 10 hertz,” and plan to conduct tests with NASA F-18s in May and August. The FAA will “evaluate the results to see if the 10 hertz, 250-watt prototype should be adopted as standards for ADS-B technology on supersonic aircraft.”
Sweden Investing $18 Million In Northvolt Battery Plant As Par Of Large-Scale Battery Project.
Reuters (2/5, Ahlander) reports Sweden will invest $18 million in Northvolt as part of a $5 billion project to build Europe’s largest battery cell plant. Norvolt CEO Peter Carlsson, formerly of Tesla, is “racing” against rivals like South Korea’s LG Chem to create battery cell plants. A pilot facility will be built in the city of Vasteras. Volkswagen’s Scania, the Swiss engineering group ABB, and Danish wind turbine company Vestas also have partnership deals with Norvolt.
Engineering and Public Policy
Senator Urges State To Have “Foresight” In Developing Autonomous Vehicle Industry.
The Detroit News (2/5, Thibodeau) reports that, in a speech at the Detroit Economic Club about driverless vehicles, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) urged lawmakers and businesses to proceed with “foresight,” drawing talent from around the world to sustain and develop the autonomous vehicle industry in Michigan. The Detroit News mentions that Ford Motor Co. is testing autonomous vehicle production in Dearborn for a 2021 launch and that General Motors Co. plans to build autonomous vehicles at the Orion Assembly plant in Orion Township, MI, with a launch of market-ready vehicles in 2019. The Detroit News writes that Peters said he wants to “ensure the state is ready to move to develop the next phase of the technology when the time comes.”
Atlantic Coast States Embracing Wind Power While Trump Administration Pushes Offshore Oil.
ClimateWire (2/5, Patterson, Subscription Publication) reports several Atlantic coast states opposed to the federal government’s plan to “expand offshore oil drilling,” are “increasingly embracing a different kind of seaborne energy: wind.” New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have all made commitments to the development of additional offshore wind power, which is also experiencing a boom in popularity in Europe. The Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling could conflict with the state’s wind power plans, resulting in the wind power and oil and gas industries to “compete for the same blocks of ocean seabed” ClearView Energy Partners LLC Managing Director of Research Kevin Book says, “In most of those cases, however, I see more complementarity than conflict. ... Shared leasing of onshore staging, shipping and exploration vessels, etc.”
Virginia Gov. Northam Endorses Utility-Backed Legislation On Rate Regulation.
The AP (2/5, Suderman) reports Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday endorsed Dominion Energy-backed legislation to overhaul limits on the ability of state regulators to adjust rates. According to the article, “Northam says he worked with the utilities and others to improve the legislation, boosting energy-efficiency programs and adding customer protections.”
The Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch (2/5, Zullo) reports Northam said, “The goal of that legislation should be simple: Give Virginians as much of their money back as possible, restore oversight to ensure that utility companies do not overcharge ratepayers for power and make Virginia a leader in clean energy and electrical grid modernization. ... After many hours of meetings between representatives of my administration, the Attorney General’s Office, utility providers, conservation advocates, clean energy companies, consumer advocates, and other key stakeholders, we have approached the legislators carrying these bills with a compromise that makes substantial improvements to the original proposed legislation and to current law.” The article adds that the legislation “advanced out of a Senate subcommittee Monday morning with significantly broadened support.”
Rhode Island Governor Says State Is Making Progress On Clean Energy Goal.
The AP (2/5) reports Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island “says the state is making progress toward the goal of increasing the amount of clean energy” in the state “tenfold by the end of 2020.” Rhode Island’s “goal is to secure 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy resources, including wind, solar and hydropower.” On Monday, the governor signaled “that the state has more than doubled the amount of renewable energy in Rhode Island, from roughly 100 megawatts to 230 megawatts, so far.” Raimondo aims “to procure another 400 megawatts of clean and renewable energy by the end of the summer.”
New Jersey AG Denies PennEast’s $1.1 Billion Natural Gas Pipeline Proposal.
The AP (2/5, Catalini) reports that in a Friday letter, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal rejected PennEast’s “proposal for use of state-controlled land for a $1.1 billion natural gas pipeline,” which the company has been pursuing for years. Grewal said the company was “patently misleading” when referencing previous attempts to negotiate for the land. Company spokesperson “Pat Kornick said the latest communication from the state is a ‘step in the right direction’ and PennEast is confident a settlement will be reached.” The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection also rejected PennEast’s water permit application on Friday since some information was missing.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2/5) also reports.
Pruitt Plans Strategy Meeting Regarding “War On Lead.”
The Hill (2/5, Green) reports EPA Administrator Pruitt has “invited the leaders of the 17 agencies that comprise President Trump’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children to discuss a draft plan to eliminate lead exposure to children in the US and mitigate health risks.” Pruitt has asked the leaders “to come prepared to consider any actions that the government could undertake in the next three years to reduce lead’s health impacts on children.” The invited attendees include Education Secretary DeVos, HUD Secretary Carson, and Attorney General Sessions.
Montana Girl Scouts’ Robotics Teams Compete In FIRST Lego League.
The Belgrade (MT) News (2/5) reports Montana State University’s Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering hosted the annual FIRST Lego League competition on Saturday. Seven Girl Scouts teams competed at the event – a “big increase over past years, resulting in a record number of girls participating, according to event organizer Christine Foreman, associate dean of engineering at MSU.” In 2011, the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming began organizing Lego League teams. Twenty-three teams were created this year, compared to six in 2016. The expansion was achieved in large part because of “a grant from FIRST (an acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, the Manchester, New Hampshire-based nonprofit organization that sponsors the K-12 robotics programs),” that “helped cover overhead costs such as the purchase of the Lego kits.”
Some Math Teachers Aim To Link Instruction With Real World.
EdSource (2/4) reports that a number of teachers have “found that teaching math outside the classroom — in the park, on a city street, at a playground — is an effective way to engage math-averse students at all grade levels.” Teachers using this approach “don’t need to plan extensive field trips to teach math outdoors. A short walk around the block can have the same impact.” The article describes how teachers relate math concepts to such hands-on activities as counting or measuring grains of sand on a beach or learning “ratios by measuring staircase risers.”
Monday's Lead Stories