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ASEE Connections

August 2016




In This Issue: Products & Programs

LSU College of Engineering
Awarded $20 Million NSF Grant to Research Advanced Manufacturing

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ASEE's Exclusive New "Engineering Education Suppliers Guide"
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This graphic provides a sense of the correlation between federal funding for engineering research and graduate student appointments. It focuses on three elements: the number of grants obtained by institutions, total federal research funding, and the number of funded graduate student appointments available. All of the data were taken from the ASEE Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges.



II. LSU College of Engineering Award
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LSU College of Engineering Spearheads $20 Million Effort to Research Advanced Manufacturing

National Science Foundation Grant One of Largest in State’s History

The National Science Foundation awarded a $20 million grant to the Louisiana Board of Regents in July 2015 to fund the creation of a consortium focused on advanced manufacturing research and initiatives. It is one of the largest in state history.

The Consortium for Innovation in Manufacturing and Materials, or CIMM, will be housed in the Manufacturing Central User Facility within Patrick F. Taylor Hall, upon completion of the building’s renovation and expansion. It will work over the next five years to advance applications in 3-D metal printing and multi-scale metal forming. It will draw from a network of state resources—including faculty expertise from five state universities, and centers of excellence like the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM) and the Louisiana Alliance for Simulation-Guided Materials Applications (LA-SiGMA)—to produce new research, develop and diversify the Louisiana workforce, and host K-12 educational outreach.

“This award recognizes the work we have conducted in various aspects of advanced manufacturing over the past decade, offers an opportunity for us to further elevate the reputation of advanced manufacturing research and development in Louisiana to national and international levels, and opens the door for us to develop sustained advanced manufacturing research and development programs to benefit the state of Louisiana and the nation as a whole,” said Wen Jin Meng, the Gerald Cire and Lena Grand Williams Professor of Mechanical Engineering and CIMM’s Technical Lead.





Last month in Philadelphia—during the week that the city hosted the Democratic National Convention—representatives from major American tech companies attended a panel discussion organized by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank. The tech companies used the event to press the federal government to invest more in STEM education and to reform immigration policies—two issues they want both parties to pay attention to during the presidential election. According to CNET.com, officials from Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon say their industry remains handicapped by difficulties in finding and hiring qualified staff — a problem, they claim, that also affects other sectors, including pharmaceuticals and healthcare. They argued that mediocre STEM education in the United States could potentially make the American companies uncompetitive. The plea for better STEM education hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. President Obama has submitted a $4 billion, three-year budget proposal to fund states to train STEM teachers, equip classrooms and develop teaching materials. An Amazon rep told the panel that tech companies need to step up their investments in staff training to keep employees’ skills up-to-date, but the government also needs to invest more in getting students ready for tech careers. As for immigration reform, according to CNET, the techies pushed for changes that make it easier for foreign students who earn degrees at American universities to remain and work in the United States.



Education Week’s online edition points out that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has published a detailed K-12 education policy plan. So to give its readers an idea on where the two stand on education, it published an interactive guide on some of the things both candidates have said or proposed about education, either during this campaign or earlier. The cheat sheet covers 13 topics. Here is a sample from three of them. School Spending: Trump has argued for a better educational system that also costs less, and he’s also incorrectly said that the U.S. spends more per pupil than any other country. Clinton has argued for enough funding to sufficiently fund the Every Student Succeeds Act, and wants more investment in computer-science education, early-childhood education and college access. Moreover, she would double funding for the Education Innovation and Research grants. Testing: Clinton, who as a senator supported the test-oriented No Child Left Behind Act, has said tests shouldn’t overtake student learning, and there should be “fewer and better” tests. Trump has not made any detailed comments about testing. School Choice: Trump has previously said he likes educational choice, and in his book The America We Deserve, he wrote that competition is good for education. Clinton garnered boos from the National Education Association when she said public schools could learn from successful charter schools, but she’s also annoyed charter-school fans by saying that private schools do not serve all students. She praised provisions in the Every Student act to expand high-quality charters, but she has opposed private school vouchers





RoboCop is so last century. Are you ready for RoboDeliveryguy? Last month, London startup Starship Technologies began rolling out a fleet of autonomous delivery robots on the sidewalks of the British capital, the first step in a large-scale testing program. The six-wheeled robots—which are capable of covering a three-mile radius and chug along sidewalks at walking speed—are making deliveries for two online takeout food companies, Just Eat and Pronto. The robots will also soon begin making deliveries for Hermes, a parcel delivery service, and German grocer Metro, and expanding their base operations into Dusseldorf, Germany, and Bern, Switzerland, as well as one other German city. The plan is to then introduce them into several other European and American cities. The robots drive themselves, but are monitored by human operators in control centers. Deliveries take 5 to 30 minutes and a robot’s progress can be monitored by customers via their smartphones. The robot’s cargo bay—which can carry up to 40 pounds of goods—can only be opened by a customer using a phone app. Before launching this large-scale rollout, the company conducted smaller trials across Europe and the U.S. Its robots have so far covered 5,000 miles, and served more than 400,000 people, with nary an accident — they’re programmed to navigate around people, animals and objects and take heed of traffic lights. Starship Technologies is the brainchild of Ahti Heinla and Janus Friss, who were cofounders of Skype. Although the company is based in London, it has its engineering facilities in Tallinn, Estonia. Just one question: Do you have to tip RoboDeliveryguy?


It took many months longer than planned, but nevertheless the solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 (or Si2) last month successfully achieved its goal of circumnavigating the globe without using any fuel or releasing any emissions. It’s quite an engineering accomplishment and may one day be looked upon as a milestone in human flight. Si2 was the inspiration of pilot Bertrand Piccard, who managed to circle the Earth in a balloon 17 years ago—a journey that made him ponder the amount of fuel he needed to do it. In 2004, he and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg began working on Si2’s first prototype. In 2014, the Si2 was ready for its first test flight. It weights nearly 5,100 pounds and has 17,248 solar cells that power its propellers and electric engines. It has a wingspan longer than a Boeing 747. In March of last year, it set off on its quest, easily covering the first leg between Abu Dhabi and Muscat, Oman in 13 hours. Borschberg and Piccard took turns piloting the one-person craft. However, after completing its longest and most difficult trek in June 2015—flying five days nonstop for 5,530 miles, between Japan and Hawaii—the Si2 sustained damaged caused by overheated batteries. It was out of commission for repairs for months. But it finally reached Cairo last July, and then flew on from there for its 17th and final leg, back to Abu Dhabi. Over the 16- month adventure, the solar aircraft covered 26,719 miles, racked up 23 days in the air and set 19 aviation records. The pair tell Wired that they will next focus on developing solar-powered drones. For now, battery and photovoltaic technologies are not advanced enough to try to develop larger, commercial solar planes.

(Image courtesy of Solar Impulse)





Trenton, N.J., has become a hotbed for physics. According to educationdive.com, physics is a required 9th grade course in the city’s public schools. That’s amazing in large part because physics teachers are a rare breed, and most school districts have a hard time finding qualified teachers. But, the website says, Trenton benefits from being down the road from the New Jersey Center for Teaching & Learning, which is the country’s top producer of physics teachers. The center has trained 25 Trenton teachers to teach the thorny subject. Its philosophy is that anyone who’s certified to teach any subject can learn to teach physics — it guides them with lesson plans, curriculum materials and assessments for an algebra-based physics course. The executive director, Bob Goodman, who has a B.S. in physics from MIT, thinks the subject is a critical building block for all scientific inquiry, educationdive says. He first developed his course at the Bergen County Technical School when he taught there. Goodman told the website he discovered that projects, like figuring out how to launch a rocket, got students more interested than a sheet of math equations — though the students would eventually need to use those equations to make their rockets fly. His were mainly lower-performing students, but they very quickly improved their math skills. The course also managed to engage girls before they reached an age when they might decide physics isn’t cool, and more of them went on to enroll in AP Physics. Girls now taking physics in schools that use the center’s course were five times more likely to take the AP Physics B exam in 2014 than their peers across the U.S., it says. The course also greatly boosted the percentages of black and Latino students who took and passed AP Physics exams.


Can a TV show about battling robots help motivate students to study engineering? Noel Sharkey thinks so. A professor of computer science and roboticist at Britain’s University of Sheffield, he was a longtime member of the judging panel on the late-’90s BBC television hit Robot Wars. The TV competition featured teams of amateur and professional roboticists building bots that would battle each other. The Beeb pulled the plug on the show in 2003, but has now brought it back. And Sharkey has returned for a second stint, as well. In a first-person article he penned for the BBC’s online edition, he writes that originally he was reluctant to join Robot Wars because he didn’t want to damage his reputation as an academic and an educator. Even after the first series, he considering quitting. But that’s when he discovered that when he toured the country giving talks to young people, he realized they were asking him much more savvy questions. “Thanks to Robot Wars, the kids wanted to know about motor types, gearing, torque and about how robots worked. The inspiration to take up innovative engineering was clearly evident.” He adds that he meets “engineers all the time that say Robot Wars changed their lives and set them on a path to engineering. It certainly changed my life and the way I looked at education.” Sharkey says the show reaches students who were a lot like he was at their age: “. . . the rebels, the troublemakers and the comedians.”




Job–hunting? Here are a few current openings:





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COVER: BAMBOO - Relatively cheap, resistant to monsoons and earthquakes, and easily prefabricated, bamboo is getting serious attention as a construction material - particularly useful in disaster-prone regions.

FEATURE: MEDICAL DEVICES - A nationwide drive to curb health-care costs presents a new hurdle to inventors of medical devices. In addition to clearing an often drawn-out approval process, they not only have to be demonstrably better than devices currently available, but cost-effective as well. How research engineers are coping with the challenge.

FEATURE: PRESIDENT - Profile of Louis Martin-Vega, engineering dean at North Carolina State University and ASEE's president in 2016-17.





The Fall 2016 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY on October 21-22, 2016.

The deadline for abstract submissions has been extended to September 1, 2016.

Please see the conference website for more information: www.Hofstra.edu/ASEE2016


The Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) Criteria Committee met in Baltimore last month to continue reviewing the EAC Criteria 3 and 5 Proposal. After spending months categorizing, summarizing and evaluating each one of the hundreds of comments, the committee has taken that feedback into consideration and made a number of modifications to the content of the proposal. The Engineering Area Delegation will review the proposal in late October, as it has the final approval authority for these proposed changes. The Delegation has three options: approve the proposed criteria as written and implement, delay final approval for one year and seek additional public comment, or reject the proposal. Click here for more details.

Look for ABET Alerts on the ASEE website.




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