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ASEE Connections
March 2014 Subscribe
In This Issue:
  • DATABYTES
    • Demand for Master's Degrees Continues Apace

  • CONGRESSIONAL HOTLINE
    • Obama Budget Skimps on R&D, Say Research Colleges
    • Appropriations Panels Set August Goal
    • New Jersey Science, STEM Booster Retiring from House


  • THE K-12 REPORT
    • English Prof Urges Colleges to Sink the SAT
    • Study: Promoting Soft Skills Can Improve Grades


  • INNOVATIONS
    • Italian Engineers Create State-of-the-Art Exoskeleton
    • Discovery May Lead to Fireproof Lithium Ion Batteries


  • JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
    • A Selection of Current Job Openings



  • COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS
    • A 'Broadening Participation' Funding Opportunity
    • Predicting the Future
    • Book Alert
    • Videos of the PPC
    • International Forum
    • Faculty Under Forty
    • ASEE Regional Conferences


  • COMING ATTRACTIONS
    • A Look at What's on Tap in the March/April 2014 Edition of Prism


  • SOUND OFF
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I. Databytes

DEMAND FOR MASTER'S DEGREES CONTINUES APACE





Master's degrees have increased since the 2003-2004 academic year by 19.24%. The fields that have led this growth are Aerospace, Biomedical, Engineering Management and Nuclear. Degrees awarded as well as enrollment trends indicate that these fields will continue to grow.

 



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II. Congressional Hotline

OBAMA BUDGET SKIMPS ON R&D, SAY RESEARCH COLLEGES

The R&D and higher-education lobby is unhappy with the Obama administration's budget for the next fiscal year, particularly flat funding for the National Institutes of Health and cuts in Defense Department basic research. Moreover, NASA's budget would trim science by 3.5 percent. Both the Association of American Universities and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities say more needs to be spent to close the "innovation deficit."

 

APPROPRIATIONS PANELS SET AUGUST DEADLINE

Still buoyed by their successful bipartisan omnibus spending law -- which treated R&D accounts better than many had anticipated -- House and Senate appropriations panels have adopted an aggressive plan to wrap up most, if not all, of their 12 bills before Congress's August recess, CQ reports. While the White House budget spells out the administration's priorities, appropriations are where the rubber meets the road in spending decisions. This being a congressional election year, the ride may not be as smooth as in the FY 2014 process. Still, Senate appropriations chair Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., says subcommittees will start markups as early as May, with full committee votes in late May and June, when some bills could reach the Senate floor.

 

Richard Templeton, CEO of Texas Instruments, Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and National Academy of Engineering President Charles Vest spoke as one before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

A KEY SCIENCE AND STEM BOOSTER RETIRING FROM HOUSE

Democratic Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey, a physicist and a leading advocate for R&D and STEM education, will join 12 fellow Democrats and 21 Republicans -- at last count -- who are exiting the House. There's some speculation Holt, 65, won't quit politics altogether.



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III. THE K-12 REPORT

ENGLISH PROF URGES COLLEGES TO SINK THE SAT

Now that the College Board, which administers the SAT college entrance exam, has announced sweeping changes that it says will make the test fairer and less biased toward affluent students, Jennifer Finney Boylan has a better idea: Just junk it altogether. Boylan, an English professor at Maine's Colby College, recently wrote a first-person op/ed piece for the New York Times in which she admitted she had to retake her SAT, and still ended up with "gruesome" scores -- a result that so far hasn't hindered her 25-year academic career. The upcoming SAT changes, she notes, are an attempt to get results that better reflect students' school grades. "The thing is, though, there already is something that accurately mirrors the grades a student gets in school. Namely: the grades a student gets in school." Boylan castigates the test for promoting memorization, not learning; for favoring the wealthy; for needlessly stressing students. Indeed, a Times magazine story about the SAT overhaul noted a report earlier this year that studied 33 colleges and universities that did not require SAT or A.C.T. grades. It found that high-school grades were an excellent predictor of college success, even if a student's SAT scores were mediocre. Writes Boylan: "Our children, precious, brilliant, frustrating, confused souls that they are, are more than a set of scores."

 

STUDY: PROMOTING SOFT SOCIAL SKILLS CAN IMPROVE GRADES

In K-12 schools today, tests rule. Test results are often used to determine how well schools and teachers are performing. Accordingly, many teachers are focusing entirely on academics and not bothering to nurture "softer" emotional and social skills. But the Washington Post reports that a new study finds that may be a mistake. The University of Virginia study, based on a randomized, controlled trial, found that in classrooms where the Responsive Classroom technique was fully implemented, students got "significantly higher" math and reading scores than those in classes where the techniques was not used. The study, the Post reports, followed 2,094 students at 24 Virginia elementary schools, who were ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. Researchers looked at the students' math and reading grades between 13 schools that used Responsive Classroom and 11 that didn't, the paper says. Responsive Classroom's aim is to improve relationships between students and teachers and with one another, and to make them feel they are parting of a caring community. The principal investigator tells the Post the results show that honing students' social and emotional skills "can be a very wise investment."



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IV. INNOVATIONS

Virginia Democrat Mark Warner

ITALIAN ENGINEERS CREATE STATE-OF-THE-ART EXOSKELETON

Engineers at Italy's Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (Perco) have devised an exoskeleton that can give the wearer superhuman strength. One researcher told the BBC that "this is the most complex wearable robot that has been ever built in the world." Each hand of the Body Extender can lift around 110 pounds, and it can amplify the strength of the wearer by 10 fold. It is also quite flexible. The Extender is comprised of 22 modular components, each with its own electric motor, so it's very accurate in tracking the movements of the human wearer. Perco engineers say the external robotic shell could be used by workers to lift heavy parts into place, say, in aircraft construction. Or to help rescue victims in disaster areas. It also looks as if were designed to star in any number of sci-fi movies. Well, Italian designers do typically place a premium on cool looks.

 

Richard Templeton, CEO of Texas Instruments, Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and National Academy of Engineering President Charles Vest spoke as one before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

DISCOVERY MAY LEAD TO FIREPROOF LITHIUM ION BATTERIES

Lithium ion batteries have become very popular because they're relatively energy-dense and long-lived. But in cars and airplanes, where larger batteries are needed, they've also been prone to catching fire. That's because the electrolyte they use, a lithium salt in an organic solvent, is flammable. So although lithium ions easily navigate through this liquid during charging, if the batteries are overcharged, they can spontaneously combust. But Joseph DeSimone, a University of North Carolina professor of chemistry, may have a solution: perfluoropolyether, or PFPE. That's a polymer that often used use to lubricate heavy-machinery gears. DeSimone was looking at PFPE as a sealant that would keep barnacles and other marine life from adhering to ship bottoms. But then he realized PFPE's chemical structure was not too dissimilar to the polymeric electrolyte used in in lithium ion batteries. Most polymers won't mix with salts, but lithium salts easily dissolved in PFPE. And PFPE is nonflammable. DeSimone's team's discovery could result in a new type of lithium ion battery, based on PFPE, that's not prone to bursting into flames.

 

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V. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

Job–hunting? Here are a few current openings:

1. Architectural Engineering -- 1 opportunity

2. Dean -- 2 opportunities

3. Mechanical Engineering -- 6 opportunities

Visit here for details:

http://www.asee.org/sales-and-marketing/advertising/classified-advertising/job-postings

 

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VI. COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS

A 'BROADENING PARTICIPATION' FUNDING OPPORTUNITY

The National Science Foundation's Broadening Participation in Engineering program has two elements: The BPE Opportunity Track "establishes mentoring, networking, and other career development opportunities" for early career engineering faculty members and those intending to pursue a faculty career in engineering. BPE Strategy Track projects should explore, develop, and implement large-scale research-based strategies that promote a more diverse workforce. The target date for full proposals is May 1. NSF recommends that potential investigators contact a program officer before submission. Find out more.

PREDICTING THE FUTURE

March 31 is the deadline for entries for the National Academy of Engineering video competition on the topic, "What will engineering create in the next 50 years?" The top prize is $25,000.

BOOK ALERT

The Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research, co-edited by Aditya Johri and Barbara Olds, is out. Many authors' names will be familiar to ASEE conference-goers. It costs $135. Read more.

VIDEOS OF THE PPC

View sessions from February's Public Policy Colloquium of the Engineering Deans Council dealing with advanced manufacturing, federal R&D, and K-12 engineering.

INTERNATIONAL FORUM

The 3rd Annual ASEE International Forum, will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 14, 2014, immediately preceding the 2014 ASEE Annual Meeting. The forum will bring together engineering professionals from academia and industry from around the globe who are engaged in novel engineering education initiatives to share information on experiences and best practices. The theme this year is "Preparing Students to Meet Global Engineering Challenges."

FACULTY UNDER FORTY. . .

will be featured in a special edition of Prism in the fall. Please send nominations of your great teachers and researchers to prism@asee.org, or m.matthews@asee.org. Please include Faculty Under Forty in the message line.

GULF-SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE

Engineering educators, industry professionals, K-12 teachers, and college students are invited to attend the 2014 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Conference on "Interactive Learning in Engineering Education" (http://asee-gsw.tulane.edu/home/) at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter on April 2-4. Click here to register.

ZONE 1 CONFERENCE at BRIDGEPORT

The 2014 ASEE Zone 1 conference will be held at the University of Bridgeport on April 3-5. Held once every 5-6 years, the conference is expected to attract more than 1000 faculty, students and experts from academia and industry who are interested in engineering education, STEM Education, Research and Development in Engineering and Engineering Technology. This year's theme is: "Engineering Education: Industry Involvement and Interdisciplinary Trends." Professional Papers, Student Papers and Student Posters are being accepted. Visit the conference website.

ZONE 4 CONFERENCE

The 2014 ASEE Zone IV conference will be hosted April 24-26, 2014 by the College of Engineering, California State University, Long Beach , CA. The conference theme this year is "Student Success Is Our Success: Developing diverse engineers for a changing world through engineering pedagogy & practice." Any questions regarding the conference can be directed to the host conference co-chairs Lily Gossage or Nim Marayong at asee@csulb.edu.

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VII. COMING ATTRACTIONS

A QUICK PEEK AT WHAT'S IN THE MARCH/APRIL 2014 PRISM


COVER: As engineering schools across the country become more engaged in K-12 preparation, an influential group of deans is moving a step further, seeking to develop an Advanced Placement engineering program.

FEATURE ONE: Carbon capture and storage is recognized as one method for slowing climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. But a number of scientists are finding productive uses for the captured C02 instead of pumping it underground.

FEATURE TWO: James Martin, physicist and computer scientist, believed this century’s problems could only be solved through collaborations of scholars from various disciplines. So he endowed an institute at Oxford, his alma mater, to do just that.

Read last month's issue of Prism magazine

 

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VIII. SOUND OFF

Do you have a comment or suggestion for Connections?

Please let us know. Email us at: connections@asee.org. Thanks.

 

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