Leading the News
Interior Plan To Expand Offshore Drilling Draws Bicoastal Opposition.
The AP (3/5) reports on protests to a Trump Administration proposal to expand offshore drilling off the Pacific Northwest coast, saying “the governors of Washington and Oregon and other top officials have slammed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s plan to open 90 percent of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private companies.” Opponents organized a hearing in Olympia Monday “ahead of an event hosted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to take public comment.” Zinke had touted the economic benefits of the plan, saying those funds would help fund conservation efforts.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (3/5, Connelly) reports that “a cross-country group of 227 legislators, representing 17 coastal states,” wrote to US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Monday in opposition to the plan. However, they also “applauded Zinke for removing Florida’s coasts from the program, which would allow drilling in more than 90 percent of America’s Outer Continental Shelf waters.” The bipartisan group of lawmakers cited concern over recent environmental disasters caused by offshore drilling.
Protesters Rally Outside BOEM Informational Session In NH. The AP (3/5, Casey, Ramer) reports, “Dozens of protesters rallied in New Hampshire on Monday against” the proposal, “saying it poses a grave threat to the state’s marine ecosystem and economy.” Protesters carried signs “outside a Concord hotel that was hosting an information session by federal officials to explain the process that could lead to drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf in the North Atlantic” – “one of 23 the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is holding on drilling plans including one in Maine on Wednesday.” BOEM Office of Strategic Resources Chief Renee Orr said, “There are a lot of passions around oil and gas drilling. People understand that it is a potentially risky activity,” adding, “It’s a proposal, a draft proposal. It’s important for people to know that the process we are talking about is 10 to 15 years from where we are now to when there might be exploration happening offshore.”
New Hampshire Public Radio (3/5, Ropeik) reports online that inside the meeting, “BOEM staff talked to residents about the science of their work, and how climate change will factor in.” Orr said “she wants people to understand how Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke will finalize his drilling plan.” Orr said that then “their comments then can be much more impactful than ‘I hate oil and gas’ or ‘I love oil and gas.’ That’s really not informative to the decisions that he has to make and the balancing he has to do.” The comments BOEM receives “in New Hampshire and nationwide are part of a ‘winnowing process’ for Zinke’s final proposal,” which is due in December, and which “may eliminate some areas from consideration,” according to Orr.
The AP (3/5) reports BOEM “is holding another meeting Wednesday in Augusta, Maine.”
Virginia Gov. Northam Denounces Offshore Drilling At Norfolk Forum. WVEC-TV Hampton Roads, VA (3/6, Her) reports online on an offshore drilling forum at ODU in Norfolk, Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) “stood behind those against offshore drilling.” Northam said, “We need to stop putting carbon into our atmosphere so we need to wean ourselves away from fossil fuel so the last thing we need to be doing right now is drilling off of our coast.”
Accreditor Green-Lights Purdue’s Purchase Of Kaplan University.
The Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier (3/5) reports the Higher Learning Commission on Monday informed Purdue University that it was approving the school’s acquisition of online for-profit giant Kaplan University. “Purdue President Mitch Daniels said Purdue Global, the rebranded online giant Kaplan University, will be ready to go in April.” The paper notes that ED and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education had already signed off on the deal.
Inside Higher Ed (3/5) reports the approval comes amid concerns “that Kaplan will have too much influence over Purdue Global, which will enjoy certain advantages as a public institution. Some faculty members at Purdue also have complained about the governance structure of the university.” Purdue “has said that Purdue Global will extend the university’s land-grant mission by making its credentials more accessible to working adults in the state who lack college degrees.”
Professor: “Food Scholarships” May Help Solve Campus Hunger.
In a piece for The Conversation (US) (3/5, Hernandez) published by the Houston Chronicle (3/5, Hernandez), University of Houston Nutrition and Obesity Studies assistant professor Daphne Hernandez maintains that “campus hunger is a significant factor behind inequality in college completion rates.” She outlines efforts by several state officials aimed at addressing the problem, and recommends “food scholarships” as a possible solution. Hernandez notes 88 percent of Houston Community College students “polled last semester indicated that food giveaways helped them focus more on school, according to a survey by the college,” underscoring “why food scholarships are being pursued as a solution.” The William T. Grant Foundation and the Kresge Foundation are supporting a project in which Hernandez and Temple University sociology professor Sara Goldrick-Rab are studying the Houston Food Bank Food for Change Program, which provided HCC students with 60 pounds of food. Hernandez said the impact of the program “on students’ academic performance and persistence in college will be evaluated over the next two years.” If it does in fact help “students do better in college and stay in college, those outcomes could help convince lawmakers and policymakers to do more to tackle the problem of campus hunger,” Hernandez adds.
Despite Rebranding, CTE Remains A Hard Sell For Some High School Graduates.
The Wall Street Journal (3/5, Belkin, Subscription Publication) reports that against the backdrop of rising college tuition rates, mounting student debt, a growing skills gap in the US workforce, and low college graduation rates, state officials, business groups, and high schools across the country are re-emphasizing career and technical education as a possible pathway for soon-to-be graduates. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce director Dr. Tony Carnevale called the trend a “counterrevolution,” but one that remains a hard sell, especially for affluent and high-achieving students.
ASEE International Forum
Join international colleagues on June 27 for a ticketed networking luncheon accompanied by a keynote speech from José Carlos Quadrado, immediate-past-president of LACCEI, on issues surrounding international students’ experiences at U.S. institutions and U.S. students’ experiences abroad. A panel session open to all Annual Conference attendees follows; the Forum concludes with a poster session at the President’s Farewell Reception. Separate International Forum registration is also available for anyone not attending the Conference. More information here as it becomes available.
NEW Webinar on Professionalism, Ethics, & Department Climate
This webinar, led by David Mogk (Montana State) and inspired by the National Academies’ Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia, explores components of professionalism, introduce topics that contribute to workplace climate, and suggest actions to ensure everyone’s success in your department. The live webinar is March 14 from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, ET. Register now!
NEW TUEE II Webinar Series — Preparing Tomorrow’s Engineers (March/April 2018)
This free, NSF-supported webinar series explores activities faculty can implement in the classroom to encourage professional skill development, focusing on leadership, ethics, and critical thinking. This series is inspired by the TUEE Phase II workshop, where students shared insights on education experiences. Read more and register: https://www.asee.org/webinars
Research and Development
Stanford Researchers Pursuing Technology To See Around Corners.
Newsweek (3/5, Georgiou) reports that “researchers from Stanford University are developing a new technique that can effectively see around corners by harnessing the power of lasers.” The technology “has a variety of applications,” and it “could be used in driverless cars to avoid collisions with unseen hazards or in aerial vehicles to see through foliage.” In addition, “it could even be used during search and rescue operations to help identify people blocked from view by walls or rubble.” Stanford Assistant Professor Electrical Engineering Gordon Wetzstein said of the technology, “It sounds like magic, but the idea of non-line-of-sight imaging is actually feasible.” He adds, “This is a big step forward for our field that will hopefully benefit all of us. In the future, we want to make it even more practical in the wild.’”
Researchers Develop Laser Technology So Autonomous Vehicles Can Navigate Around Corners. The Guardian (UK) (3/5, Davis) reports researchers at Stanford University “have come up with a new laser-based system that efficiently produces images of objects that are hidden around a corner – a development they say could allow autonomous vehicles to see obstacles before they come into the line of sight.” The Guardian adds that “the approach builds on technologies such as Lidar,” but the researchers have taken “the idea further, using lasers to see around corners.” The findings were published in the journal Nature.
Kettering Autonomous Vehicle Testing Facility To Be Complete Late Summer.
MLive (MI) (3/5) reports that Kettering University’s General Motors Mobility Research Center will be constructed in late summer in Flint, MI, providing a “state-of-the-art vehicle and mobility testing center.” The center will test autonomous vehicles.
“Obscure American Startup” Claims It Can Unlock iPhones.
Forbes (3/5, Fox-Brewster) reports that a week after it was reported that “Israeli U.S. government manufacturer” Cellebrite can “unlock the latest Apple iPhone models, another service has emerged promising much the same. Except this time it comes from an unkown entity, an obscure American startup named Grayshift, which appears to be run by long-time U.S. intelligence agency contractors and an ex-Apple security engineer.” According to Forbes, “In recent weeks, its marketing materials have been disseminated around private online police and forensics groups, offering a $15,000 iPhone unlock tool named GrayKey, which permits 300 uses. That’s for the online mode that requires constant connectivity at the customer end, whilst an offline version costs $30,000.”
CRISPR Concerns Mitigated By Recent Advances, Researchers Suggest.
STAT (3/5, Begley) reports the fear that CRISPR-based genome repair for preventing or treating genetic diseases will be “derailed by ‘editing gone wild’ has begun to abate.” Scientists who are developing the technique say recent advances “suggest that the risk is not as high as earlier research suggested and that clever molecular engineering can minimize it.”
Microsoft Testing Cortana Integration With Outlook For iOS And Android.
The Verge (3/5, Warren) reports that it has been told by “sources familiar with Microsoft’s Outlook plans” that the company is testing integration of its Cortana digital assistant with Outlook on both iOS and Android. The testing is being conducted internally, “and if the feedback is positive then the feature should make its way to beta and public releases of Outlook for iOS and Android.” The integration will allow users to listen and respond to email using voice commands, and integration that will work over Bluetooth to read messages aloud is being tested as well. The Verge adds that this news comes “just weeks after” Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS and Android boss, Javier Soltero, became the new Cortana head, reporting to Harry Shum, Microsoft’s head of AI and research.
Ars Technica (3/5, Axon) points out that neither Google Assistant nor Siri offer similar functions when using the Outlook mobile app. Engadget (3/5) also reports.
Scientists Use Nano-Optics To Achieve Controlled Coupling Of Light And Matter.
Nanowerk (3/5) reports physicists at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Germany and Imperial College London in the UK have achieved “controlled coupling of light and matter at room temperature” using plasmonic nanoresonators, an achievement that “is particularly significant as it builds the foundations for a realization of practical photonic quantum technologies.” The research was published in Science Advances. Nanowerk adds researchers “now hope to be able to controllably manipulate the coupling of the quantum dot and the resonator not only by changing their distance but also through external stimuli – possibly even by single photons,” which “would result in unprecedented new possibilities in the challenging route towards a realization of optical quantum computers.”
Conservative California Attorney Representing Fired Google Engineer Profiled.
Bloomberg News (3/5, Mehrotra) profiles Harmeet Dhillon, the attorney representing James Damore, the Google engineer who was “fired for arguing women aren’t genetically suited to work in tech.” Dhillon, an “outspoken supporter of President Trump,” is “one of three elected leaders” to California’s Republican National Committee. In the Google case, “Dhillon won’t say whether she agrees with her client’s 3,000-word manifesto,” but she “does agree that Google’s work culture crushes conservative ideology while promoting a liberal echo chamber.”
Mining Exploration Is Making Comeback After Four-Year Slump.
A new S&P Global Market Intelligence report analyzing global mining exploration spending received widespread coverage in the financial and trade press, with Bloomberg News (3/5) highlighting the report and using S&P data in a chart to showcase how mining firms are ramping up spending as base metals rebound. S&P Global Market Intelligence Associate Director of Research for Metals and Mining Mark Ferguson said, “Improved equity market support for explorers allowed many companies to launch or resume drill programs. Our year-end measure of exploration-sector activity reached levels not seen since early 2013.”
Reuters (3/5, Taylor) reports global exploration spending last year rose 15 percent with another 20 percent increase expected in 2018.
Mining Journal (UK) (3/5) reports S&P found spending on non-ferrous metal exploration reached $8.4 billion in 2017, up from $7.3 billion the previous year. Ferguson said, “We really see the industry continuing to do well this year...Conditions are pretty strong. The producers have come out of a long period of trying to preserve margins and the juniors have responded and are able to start to capitalize on [better equity market sentiment]. That really translates to budgets rising. We expect budgets to be up by more than 20% or so this year.”
Mining Weekly (3/5) reports Canada, Australia, and the US “continue to lead exploration spending,” with the top ten countries accounting for 70 percent of global outlays. Ferguson noted that “battery metals exploration surged, with lithium exploration allocations in 2017 more than doubling year-on-year, while cobalt-focused exploration also increased strongly.”
Also providing coverage include Les Echos (FRA) (3/5), Mining (3/5), Mining Engineering (3/5), Australian Mining (3/6), Canadian Mining Journal (3/5), and Moneyweb (ZAF) (3/5).
Deepwater Sector To Drive Adoption Of Autonomous Marine Systems In Oil, Gas Industry.
E&E Publishing (3/2, Subscription Publication) reported oil and gas companies are increasingly adopting offshore unmanned marine systems that will help them automate more of their operations. While remote operated vehicles (ROVs), which “require constant human operation from the surface,” are more common in the industry; developers are also aiming to create autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that “can be monitored from the shore and operate 24 hours a day.” Some AUVs can be “deployed for inspections, others for data collection or even for seismic surveying.” Westwood Global Energy Group analyst Mark Adeosun said, “Although the adoption of AUV technology within the oil & gas industry is limited compared to ROVs, Westwood expects adoption rate to increase significantly over the 2018-2022 period. ... This will be driven by offshore deepwater activities, pipeline survey, pipeline inspection, life of field inspection (LOFI), rig moves and site survey.”
Apple Leads Wearables Market Thanks To Cellular Connectivity And Fitbit’s Struggles.
Business Insider (3/5, Bernard) reports that the Apple Watch “now dominates the nascent wearables market.” Although the company does not provide sales figures for its smartwatch, BI says a “chart by Statista, based on data from industry research firm IDC, shows that Apple took the top spot in 2017.” This is likely due to the “addition of cellular connectivity to the new model of the Apple Watch, along with the struggles at Fitbit, the previous market leader.” BI concludes, “If Apple can continue to grow its wearables business at the same rate in 2018, its lead is likely to get larger.”
Engineering and Public Policy
San Francisco Student Spearheads City’s First High School Hackathon.
The San Francisco Chronicle (3/5) reports about 75 students, mentors, and judges convened at the Horizons School of Technology this weekend for San Francisco’s first high school hackathon, dubbed “Hack the Fog.” The event was spearheaded by Lowell High School junior Yev Barkalov, who “attended his first event as a high school freshman in 2015 and was mesmerized by the energy that comes from the 24-hour sprint to build a new technology or product from scratch.” Barkalov was confounded by how far he had to travel for such events, and so he “recently decided to bring the party to his own backyard in a surprising first for San Francisco.” Zach Latta, who heads “the nonprofit Hack Club, which partners with schools to create coding clubs,” worked with Barkalov to organize Hack the Fog.
Iowa Lego League Team Prepares For FIRST World Championship.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls (IA) Courier (3/5) reports the Speedsters, a team of five sixth-grade students from Hansen Elementary School, “is preparing for the FIRST World Championship in Detroit April 25 to 28, one of two Iowa Lego League teams advancing to the event.” This year’s theme is “Hydro Dynamics,” and participating students are tasked with developing “a solution to provide clean drinking water in developing countries.” The Speedsters created “a device to purify water using ultraviolet light,” which kills bacteria and other germs. Student Varun Gulwadi explained people in developing nations without indoor plumbing often store water in earthen clay pots affixed with steel lids. Since “microbes and other bacteria can get into the water,” Gulwadi said, his team developed a prototype water purifier built into a lid, incorporating “the current way they store water.” Speedsters coach Parag Sampat “said the students also are contacting nongovernmental organizations to gauge interest in the water purifier.”
Monday's Lead Stories