Leading the News
Geneva International Auto Show Brings Together Luxury And Futuristic Cars.
In coverage of the Geneva International Motor Show, the New York Times (3/6, Voelk, Subscription Publication) reports about the luxury and ultrapremium vehicles on display, from the Rolls-Royce Phantom to the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid SUV, highlighting the vast range of amenities and options available to the modern buyer of high-end cars. The game of “uber luxury” is all about “customization,” and “the sky’s the limit.” For example, “matching the paint to a husband’s wedding cummerbund or wife’s signature lipstick is possible,” or “if a buyer’s favorite tree is felled by lightning, its veneer can be installed to keep its memory alive.”
The AP (3/6, McHugh, Keaten) reports “this year’s Geneva auto show was full of new cars flaunting electric and autonomous technologies meant to help unclog city streets and fight global warming and air pollution,” but “that didn’t stop carmakers from offering their traditional crowd-pleasers: ostentatious displays of overweening horsepower in sleek, gas-guzzling, and obscenely expensive sports cars.”
European Automakers Take Step To Prepare Electric Future. The New York Times (3/6, Boudette, Subscription Publication) reports disinterest in electric vehicles in the US “presents a big challenge for Europe’s luxury carmakers.” The Times adds “many automakers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche and Volvo, are scrambling to produce lines of electric, hybrid and plug-in models.” According to the Times, “some” of the newer models are being shown at the Geneva International Motor Show, including the Jaguar I-Pace, Volvo V60, and Audi E-tron.
Rowan University, Atlantic Cape Community College Announce Engineering Transfer Agreement.
The Press of Atlantic City (NJ) (2/26) reports that students at Atlantic Cape Community College in Cape May County, New Jersey can earn associate’s degrees in engineering and then “easily transfer” to Rowan University “thanks to a new agreement signed by the two colleges Monday. The articulation agreement allows students who complete an engineering degree at Atlantic Cape to transfer into the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at Rowan University as juniors in its mechanical engineering program.”
HBCU Graduates Have Helped Diversify STEM Workforce.
Diverse Education (3/6) reports that historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have “long served as institutions of choice for many high-performing” historically underrepresented students, “especially those seeking research training in preparation for graduate STEM degrees.” The National Science Foundation has reported “STEM Ph.D.-holders from underrepresented groups primarily earn their bachelor’s degrees from HBCUs.” Data from a recent NIH report show the “the number of African-Americans enrolled in STEM Ph.D. programs grew from 587 in 1985 to 2,373 in 2014,” which presents a “proportional change from 2.4 percent to 7.4 percent.”
Ohio State University Partners With Columbus, OH In “Smart City” Initiative.
The Big Ten Network (3/6, Tolley) reports on Ohio State University partnering with Columbus, OH, recent winner of the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, awarding the city $50 million in grants. Ohio State University’s Smart Campus, Smart Columbus, and Ohio State’s Transportation Research Center, Center for Automotive Research and Technology Commercialization Office, sponsored a talk to encourage students to look at “technologies that will equalize mobility in the city while reducing overall congestion and facilitating a much cleaner environment.”
Education IG Express Concern Over House Republican Higher Education Bill.
The Washington Post (3/6, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the Education Department’s inspector general is expressing concerns over “provisions in the House Republican higher education bill that would repeal regulations holding colleges and universities accountable for the use of federal student aid.” In a report released Monday, the IG said, “Eliminating various accountability provisions without a proven substitute would increase the risks to students and taxpayers,” and “could result in higher costs to offer credit through loans due to excessive borrowing, could increase defaults, and increase the use of [income-driven repayment plans] and loan discharges that could negatively impact the long-term viability of the programs.”
Inside Higher Ed (3/6) reports the IG concluded that though “some federal higher ed accountability measures have been ineffective, they should be preserved and strengthened, not scrapped.” The report’s findings run counter to “the approach Republican lawmakers would take to accountability for colleges and universities in House legislation and a Senate GOP white paper. And it appears to give ammunition to critics who argue that a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act must maintain existing protections, especially those targeting for-profit colleges.”
Columnist: California Preparing To Push Back Against ED’s Efforts To Protect Student Loan Servicers.
In a column for the Los Angeles Times (3/6), David Lazarus writes about ED’s draft memo which “lays out the case for why states, including California, should abandon their own laws for student-loan servicers and let the feds allow these for-profit companies to skate by with considerably less oversight.” Lazarus faults the government’s position on superseding state laws enacted “to protect people burdened with student loans from being muscled by overzealous debt collectors,” saying ED’s priority “seems to be safeguarding the loan-servicing industry, not consumers.” He writes that officials in California, “which has enacted some of the most comprehensive rules for student-loan servicers...say they’re not going to just roll over.”
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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)
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Research and Development
UK Launching Review Of Laws Prior To Planned 2021 Arrival Of Autonomous Vehicles.
The Guardian (UK) (3/6, Perkins) reports the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission will conduct a three-year review of “the law before the arrival of self-driving cars on UK roads, considering issues such as whether this type of transport requires new criminal offences.” The Guardian says that the review, which will examine “issues including self-driving vehicles not having a human at the wheel or even a steering wheel,” is also “considered necessary if it is to stick to the timetable announced in November last year when the chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised driverless cars on the road by 2021.”
BMW Board Member Says Company Will Develop, Produce Electric Mini In China.
Reuters (3/6, Taylor) reports BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer on Tuesday said “research and development of the next electric Mini will take place in China,” potentially via “a new alliance with Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motor Co.” Schwarzenbauer told reporters that the car “will be developed in China and it will be produced in China, but we don’t know where yet.” He added, “The car could also be exported.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Administration Looks To Congress To Fund Infrastructure Plan.
The Washington (DC) Post (3/6, Halsey) reports that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that there has been “no resolution [within the administration] on how to pay for” the $200 billion federal portion of President Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal. Chao said, “I think the good news is . . . that everything is on the table and this administration is open to considering all revenue sources,” adding, “We need the help and counsel of the Congress on this.” Chao said, “A key element [of the White House plan] is to empower decision-making at the state and local level. They know best the infrastructure needs of their communities.” The Post points out that while President Trump has offered some support for increasing the federal gas tax, Republicans in Congress “have been reluctant to associate themselves with a tax increase.”
Bloomberg News (3/6, Niquette, Yang) reports President Trump has not “focused on infrastructure in recent weeks,” raising doubts that an infrastructure bill will pass this year. The article mentions that Trump was alleged to have privately offered “to support a 25-cent increase in the federal gas tax” but “key Republicans are opposed, and the president hasn’t addressed the issue publicly.” According to Bloomberg, “The White House will only say that the gas tax has pros and cons and the president is open to funding options.”
Analysis: Countermeasures To Proposed Steel Tariffs Would Harm Coal Country.
CNN Money (3/6, Egan) features opinion that US “coal country could be harmed” if President Trump follows through on a proposal to impose steel tariffs. Wood Mackenzie analyst Andy Roberts said, “If someone is trying to retaliate, coal would be an easy target given the president’s support toward the industry.” BTU Analytics director Tony Scott “said coal would certainly be exposed in a trade war.” Yet, Murray Energy expressed support for Trump’s proposed tariffs. CNN highlights the threat of a Brazilian tariff, but says “Trump’s tariffs could provide a boost as long as there is no retaliation.”
Steel Tariff Backlash Could Endanger Future Energy Infrastructure Investment. Fortune (3/6) editor Andrew Nusca says the US oil and gas industry “howled” in opposition to President Trump’s proposed steel tariffs, “saying the plan...would actually hurt [American industry] by making it prohibitively expensive to build drilling equipment, pipelines, and refineries.” Nusca expresses concern that, since the IEA “warned that energy companies need to start spending again to avoid potential crude oil shortages after 2020 that could lead to surging prices,” that spending “won’t happen if it costs too much to invest in new infrastructure.” Nusca warns, “And then, well, we’ll all really be stung.”
Report: US Energy Storage Market Expected To Nearly Triple This Year.
Reuters (3/6, Groom) reports that according to a report published yesterday by the Energy Storage Association and GTM Research, “deployments of energy storage systems” in the US “will nearly triple this year thanks to sharply lower costs and state policies that support the case for installing batteries in homes, businesses and along the power grid.” The projected “growth of 186 percent to 1,233 megawatt-hours of storage from 431 MWh compares with the 27 percent increase in 2017.” GTM analyst Ravi Manghani contends “that’s in part because some large projects that had been expected for 2017 were pushed into the early months of 2018, but also because the market for batteries in homes and businesses is finally taking off.”
DOE Official: Carbon Capture Work Will Continue, Despite Proposed Budget Cut.
The Houston Chronicle (3/6, Osborne) reports Energy Department Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steve Winberg said the fossil energy program researchers remain “focused on reducing the costs of carbon capture, despite a proposed budget cut.” Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposed budget for 2019 reduces funding for carbon capture research by 80% from the $196.3 million Congress budgeted last year.
Rick Perry Seeks New Path To Save Coal.
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry is aiming to develop a new generation of coal power plants, the Houston Chronicle (3/5, Osborne) reports, even as he slashes spending on vital carbon-capture technology that has proven elusive even as costs soar. Referencing a trial facility in Mississippi that was ultimately shuttered after costs spiraled billions of dollars over budget, S&P Global Platts Director of Coal Analytics Joe Aldina said, “the coal companies tried to push [carbon capture] and technologies they thought would give them some longevity. They know they need carbon capture in the long-term. But they saw what happened at the Kemper plant and the delays and overruns there. There’s a general skepticism.”
Lawmakers Seeks Exemptions From BOEM Plan To Expand Offshore Drilling.
E&E Publishing (3/6, Subscription Publication) continues coverage of lawmakers’ Monday letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seeking exclusion of “their shores from the department’s draft five-year plan for offshore energy development.” BOEM officials say Florida “remains a part of the agency’s analysis but that Zinke’s preferences will be influential in the drafting of the proposed and final versions of the five-year plan.” Interior spokesman Alex Hinson said in response, “Creating a Five Year Program is a very open and public process, and Secretary Zinke looks forward to meeting with more Governors and other coastal representatives who want to discuss the draft program. Aside from those important meetings, there is continued outreach by the Department.” E&E adds, “BOEM has scheduled 23 meetings, largely in the capitals of coastal states, to solicit public input.” In a separate Monday letter, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and other “senators requested to extend the comment period on the draft plan.”
Pre-K Plus Extracurriculars Can Help Poor Students Close Math Achievement Gap.
Education Week ’s (3/6, Sparks) “Inside School Research” blog reports a new longitudinal study by research firm MDRC suggests that the “benefits of even high-quality preschool programs tend to fade over time, but extracurricular programs in early grades may help boost the good effects of early education after students start school.” The study found that “low-income students who participated in both a math-focused preschool curriculum and extracurricular math clubs during their first year of school closed nearly 30 percent of the math achievement gap between themselves and their wealthier peers by the end of kindergarten.” The study backs up a 2015 analysis “of 39 different early-childhood-education programs found that most intelligence-related boosts from preschool faded within a year or two.”
University Of Chicago Experts Help Area Preschool Teachers Gain Confidence To Teach STEM.
In an online PBS NewsHour (3/6) “Making the Grade” video, correspondent Hari Sreenivasan reported University of Chicago “experts in science, technology, and math are partnering with local child care centers to boost teacher confidence.” He explained that “only 38 percent of the nation’s fourth graders testing proficient in the sciences,” and so some teachers, including those in Chicago, “are looking to the preschool years begin addressing the problem.” A Michigan State University study, however, found “a majority of preschool teachers” are uncomfortable teaching science. Liesje Spaepen and Liz Lehman of the University of Chicago STEM Education Center “say that when teachers feel uneasy about a subject matter, it can leave a powerful impression on students, even at an early age.” They are now “coaching preschool teachers from Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, where students from low-income families are at a greater risk of falling behind in science and math.”
Teachers Balance Student Interest, Ethics In “Cyber Hygiene” Curriculum.
Education Week (3/7, Schwartz) reports a growing number of schools are “teaching what is being dubbed ‘cyber hygiene,’ the basic cybersecurity habits that will keep students safe online at home and on their school networks.” One district, Louisiana’s Bossier Parish, uses “the CyberPatriot program, a national competition for middle and high school students run by the Air Force Association,” and “also offers cyber literacy and cyber science electives, taught with National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center curriculum materials.” Educators are challenged on how to “present lessons on cybersecurity habits in ways that engage, rather than overwhelm, students and resonate with their daily experiences, educators and advocates say.” Teachers also maintain that “there’s a need to remind students of the ethical choices that come with making decisions about how they use technology.” I-SAFE chief strategy officer Jonathan King said schools must take security precautions, and anything teachers “can do to help mitigate irregular use on their infrastructure helps them in the long run.”
Tuesday's Lead Stories