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The following are extracts from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) daily newsletter: First Bell ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) related to;

  • Higher Education
  • Research and Development
  • Global Developments

Tuesday April 5th, 2011

Higher Education:

Paper Suggests Breaking Master's Institutions Into Geographical Categories.

In a brief article, the Chronicle of Higher Education (4/5) reports, "The nation's 265 public colleges classified as master's institutions should be further divided into geographical categories, which could bring greater precision to studies of their role in higher education, according to a paper to be presented this week at the American Educational Research Association meeting." The paper's authors suggest that "a classification scheme could be modeled after the rubric for associate colleges developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which divides those institutions into urban, suburban, and rural subclassifications."


UT Aims For 10% Cut In Power Use To Get TVA Discount.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (4/5, Marcum, 96K) reports, "The University of Tennessee has kicked off Earth Month with a goal to rein in its electric power consumption campuswide by 10 percent over a year and get its electricity use in line with new TVA peak-demand wholesale power rates." Terry Ledford, senior project manager of facilities services for UT, indicated that the university has already been striving towards decreasing its energy use. According to the report, UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek issued a challenge On April 1 to "UT students, faculty and staff to scale back power use, especially during hours of peak demand." Cheek stated on the university's website that "Going forward, our energy costs will vary based on times that TVA has identified as peak power use times."


Official Urges Hispanic-Serving Institutes To Broaden Search For Funds.

Diverse (4/5, Dervarics) reports, "In their search for federal dollars, Hispanic-serving institutions must think beyond programs targeted just at HSIs or minority-serving colleges and look toward broader competitive federal grants open to all of higher education." This is according to Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, who "said education faces a 'new policy landscape' in which narrowly targeted federal programs such as grants to Hispanic-serving colleges are unlikely, by themselves, to meet the needs of fast-growing postsecondary institutions." As an example, Sepulveda cited "the US Department of Labor's new community college competitive grants program."


Research and Development:

Graphene Transistors May Self-Cool, Researchers Say.

Daily Tech (4/5, Mick) reports that in a study of graphene transistors, University of Illinois researchers "led by mechanical science and engineering professor William King and electrical and computer engineering professor Eric Pop made a remarkable discovery -- graphene appears to self-cool." The researchers "used an atomic force microscope tip as a temperature probe to make the first nanometer-scale temperature measurements of a working graphene transistor," and discovered "was that the resistive heating ("waste heat") effect in graphene was weaker than its thermo-electric cooling effect at times." The article notes that along with research that expands the possibilities of applying graphene, expanded interest and research into manufacturing practices is bringing down the cost of the material.


New UT Supercomputer Offers Advantages In Specialized Areas.

The Austin American Statesman (4/5, Ladendorf) reports, "The newest supercomputer at the University of Texas, Lonestar 4, isn't the biggest in town, nor the most expensive, but it may be the fastest, at least for some computing tasks." The supercomputer, which was financed in part by Texas A&M University, Texas Tech and others, is "expected to support more than 1,000 research projects in science and engineering over the next four years." While it lacks "the total computing power" of the machine UT acquired in 2008, by using newer technology Lonestar 4 "speeds up work on some computing problems, such as earthquake simulations, that use part of its capacity." The article notes, "The new computer already has been used by researchers in Japan, who have had some problems with their own supercomputers because of power outages."


Software Quickly Recognizes, Tracks Images.

The Wired (4/4, Sorrel) "Gadget Lab" blog reports on the "Predator object-tracking software" developed by University of Surrey PhD student Zdenek Kalal, which after being introduced to an object "will quickly learn to recognize it and then track it, whether it fades into the distance, hides amongst other similar objects or - in the case of faces turns sideways." The target object is defined by placing a box around it on the screen. "Within seconds it can recognize patterns, objects and faces and track them as they shrink, grow and rotate." The blog post includes a video of Kalal demonstrating the software.

Popular Science (4/4, Beck), which also offers the video, notes, "Kalal does an excellent job of explaining the potential uses for the technology, moving beyond the obvious implications for security and identifying criminals. The video demonstrates how you can use the algorithm to track animals, stabilize videos by focusing on one object, or even create a makeshift mouse as the system tracks your fingers."


Crash Test Dummy Technology Explored.

As part of its "How It Works" series, Popular Science (4/4, Pacella) reports on how new technology is improving the usefulness of the crash test dummy at the General Motors Anthropomorphic Test Device (ATD) lab. "Improvements include faster data collection and RibEye, a chest cavity loaded with sensors that helps engineers better understand how the rib cage compresses during a crash." Humanetics Innovative Solutions VP Michael Jarouche said, "Now...we just have to figure out how to give the dummy internal organs." Popular Science includes a Flash presentation on "how the GM Anthropomorphic Test Device gathers data during a crash."


Global Developemnts:

Russia Could Accelerate Space Plans.

Bloomberg News (4/5, Arkhipov, Pronina) reports, "Russia may accelerate planned missions to the moon and Mars as it seeks to maintain its lead over China in space exploration and close the gap with the US." Russia could launch a manned mission to the moon 10 years earlier than planned, according to Roscosmos. With the highest budget since the fall of the Soviet Union, Anatoly Perminov, head of Roscosmos, said, "It is the first time that the government has allocated decent financing to us." The article contrasts Russia's growing space budget with NASA and the cancellation of its manned lunar program. "Russia will need a new rocket, a new manned spacecraft for crews of between four and six members and a new launch site to operate manned flights as early as in 2018, Perminov said."





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