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ASEE Connections

July 2017




In This Issue:
    • Which Schools and Disciplines Attract the Most Hispanic Students?

    • Effort to Nix ’Startup Visas’ Angers Tech Industry
    • States Sue Education Department over Student Debt Rules Delay
    • Study Predicts Electric Car Sales Will Zoom

    • Engineered Blood Vessels May Improve Root Canals
    • Startup Eyes Market for Industrial ‘SmartBoots’

    • Girl Scouts to Launch Cybersecurity Badges


    • Watford Assumes ASEE Presidency
    • NSF Seeks to Expand INCLUDES National Network


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This month’s Databyte focuses on the bachelor’s degrees for Hispanic students from 2007-2016. The top 10 schools with the highest number of Hispanic students are listed from the continental United States and Puerto Rico. The two following tables have the highest number of male Hispanic students by engineering discipline, as well as the highest number of female Hispanic students by engineering discipline. The source for this data is ASEE’s annual survey Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology. For males (total 57,485), the top three engineering disciples were mechanical, civil, and electrical. For females (total 16,089), the top three engineering disciplines were civil, mechanical, and chemical.

Table 1. Total Hispanic Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees 2007-2016

Table 2. Ranked Hispanic Male Bachelor’s Degrees by Engineering Discipline, 2007-2016

Table 3. Ranked Hispanic Female Bachelor’s Degrees by Engineering Discipline, 2007-2016





Many business groups, particularly tech companies, are enthusiastic supporters of immigration; the Trump administration, not so much. When the White House rolled out Trump’s ban on travel from six predominately Muslim countries earlier this year, many companies objected to it, including 160 tech firms, ranging from Amazon to Facebook. And, as Bloomberg reports, many of those same companies were also upset by the administration’s plans to limit access to the H-1B visas given to high-skilled workers. Now, the news service says, the administration plans to rescind a new program that gives so-called “startup visas” to foreign entrepreneurs. And, once again, the tech industry isn’t happy. The Obama-era program was set to begin this month, but the Department of Homeland security announced it would delay its start until March of next year. However, it also issued a notice declaring that in the interim it would seek to kill the program, Bloomberg says. It’s called the International Entrepreneur Rule, and it would allow foreigners who were launching companies that have been awarded $100,000 in federal grants or attracted at least $250,000 in venture capital to remain in the U.S. for a renewable 30-month term. Steve Case, who founded America Online, tweeted that the effort to deep six the program was a “big mistake,” and he added, “Immigrant entrepreneurs are job makers, no job takers.” One industry trade group noted that while other countries were doing all they could to lure talented foreigners to their shores, the U.S. was instead shunning them. Bloomberg says the administration’s effort also won’t sit well with many Republicans in Congress who liked the startup visas.


Eighteen states have sued the U.S. Department of Education over the agency’s plan to delay new rules to forgive the debt of students who borrowed money to attend for-profit colleges that cheated them. The rules were set to take effect on July 1, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos froze them last month. She cited as her reason a lawsuit filed in May by an association of for-profit schools challenging the rules. But, as the New York Times reports, she had already been on record criticizing the rules as “a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools.” In their federal suit, the attorneys general of the 18 states noted that the rules had already been finalized, and it calls DeVos’ reason for delaying them a “mere pretext.” The rules were drafted over several years of review and negotiations by the Obama White House and were finalized last October. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the Los Angeles Times that students should not have to fear that “their American dream will be stolen by unscrupulous purveyors of a sham college education.” Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general, called DeVos’ decision “a betrayal of her office’s responsibility and a violation of federal law.” A spokesperson for the department told the New York Times that the rules were flawed and needed to be reconsidered, and that the states’ lawsuit was “ideologically driven.” Meanwhile, the Times says, two students have also filed a federal suit against the department over the delay.


Mass adoption of electric vehicles will likely take off some time between 2025-30, a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says. Until then, EV sales will still be largely reliant on government incentives and sales mandates, particularly in Europe and China. But after that, it says, they’ll no longer need subsidies to win over buyers. Why? Better battery technologies. The New York Times reports that the Bloomberg study finds that the average cost of lithium-ion battery packs has been plunging since 2010, and is now around $300 per kilowatt-hour. Even if there are no big technical breakthroughs in the interim, the study found, the price should plummet to $73 by 2030, thanks to huge increases in production and improved design and chemistry. Ergo, automakers will continue to introduce more models at lower prices, with ranges that near or exceed 300 miles per charge. One Bloomberg analyst told the Times: “Our forecast doesn’t hinge on countries adopting stringent new fuel standards or climate policies. It’s an economic analysis, looking at what happens when the upfront cost of electric vehicles reaches parity. That’s when the real shift occurs.” Exxon Mobil told the paper that its research indicates that growth will be slower, with EVs grabbing just 10 percent of the U.S. market by 2040, which is largely in line with the federal Energy Information Administration’s estimates. But Bloomberg offers a rosier outlook. It says all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids will outsell their internal-combustion rivals globally by 2040 and comprise 54 percent of the new-car market.





A root canal is no one’s idea of fun. But many find the procedure worth the pain because it can help save an infected tooth that would otherwise be lost. So it’s not surprising that more than 15 million root canals are performed annually in the U.S. Still the procedure is not problem-free. A root canal can leave the tooth susceptible to eventually becoming brittle and fracturing. A new fix, however, may be in the offing. Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland have developed a way to engineer new blood vessels in repaired teeth that could keep them healthier. Currently, the standard procedure is to remove infected tissues and replace them with synthetic materials, then cover the tooth with a protected crown. But that leaves the tooth lifeless because its blood supply and nerves are removed. All too often, these zombie teeth can fracture, and have to be replaced with implants or dentures. So the OHSU team, led by Luiz Bertassoni, who is an assistant professor of both restorative dentistry and biomedical engineering, invented a 3D printing-inspired process to create artificial blood vessels in the lab. They created fiber molds of blood vessels using sugar molecules within the root canals of extracted teeth. They injected a gel into the molds that was similar to human proteins and that contained dental pulp cells. When they removed the fibers, they left behind microchannels in the root canal, into which they inserted endothelial cells that had been isolated from the interior lining of blood vessels. After a week, the dentin-producing cells grew near the teeth walls and artficial blood vessels formed inside the teeth. Bertassoni says the experiments show that the fabricating of blood vessels may offer a way to fully regenerate damaged teeth.


A Pittsburgh startup, SolePower, is developing a line of industrial work boots fitted with a kinetic charger that generates enough power to run a GPS locator and sensors that detect motion, movement and temperature—data that can be wirelessly transmitted and used to better monitor workers. The company's CEO and founder Hahna Alexander—who first came up with the idea in one of her engineering classes at Carnegie Mellon University—says the SmartBoots can help companies keep "workers safe, fit and productive.” For example, firefighters often have to work in smoky conditions that limit visibility. If a firefighter is injured, the data-transmitting boots could help guide rescuers to her location. Another possible use: in the construction industry, location and motion data from the boots could be analyzed to help operations and safety managers better monitor and control the flow of workers. Workers could more easily be kept away from dangerous areas, and managers could use the data to design more efficient layouts of industrial spaces. There could be military applications, too, allowing for improved location monitoring of soldiers and tracking their physiological data. The kinetic chargers are built into the boot heel, and each step taken generates power.





Girl Scouts are awarded badges when they study new tasks and can show they’re proficient at them. They now range from learning how to blaze trails in the outdoors to video-game development to first aid. But starting next year, the 1.8 million scouts can earn up to 18 cybersecurity badges designed for grades K-12. The Girl Scouts of the USA says it’s partnering with security software maker Palo Alto Networks to develop the badges. The first of them will be aimed at youngsters in grades K-5, and will roll out in September 2018. A year later, badges aimed at older girls will become available. The cybersecurity curriculum isn’t set yet, but will likely touch on such things as protecting financial information, securing phones and social-media accounts, combatting cyberbullying and detecting Internet scams, according to EdScoop. USA Today adds that younger girls will learn things like where information goes and how computers work, while older scouts will study how viruses spread and how cyberattacks happen. Before the rollout, it says, around 112 councils will recruit volunteers to test the activities and provide feedback. The organization tells EdScoop that it hopes the cybersecurity badges will convince some girls to become “white hat hackers” and consider careers in cybersecurity. A study earlier this year found that women comprise a mere 11 percent of the cybersecurity professionals.




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Taking the gavel, the Virginia Tech associate dean and professor pledged as president to embrace diversity of all types in ASEE. That is "not just lip service," society Managing Director Nathan Kahl writes on the website LinkEngineering: "Among the things she’s passionate about, a diverse engineering education community is perhaps the foremost." Putting words into action, ASEE "will co-host the 1st Annual Conference of the Collaborative for Inclusion and Diversity in Engineering and Information Technology. Under the banner 'Alone We are Strong; Together We are Stronger,' the conference will bring together all those working to achieve increased participation for all under-represented groups."


Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) seeks to develop ’science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent from all sectors and groups in our society. NSF is currently focusing on and identifying novel ways in which new and currently-funded NSF projects from across all NSF directorates can engage with the NSF INCLUDES National Network. We have called this process building ’on-ramps’ to the NSF INCLUDES National Network. To do this, we encourage the submission of funding requests for i) Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), ii) Conferences and Workshops, and iii) Supplements to existing NSF-funded grants.’ Learn more.




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