• TEEX Center awarded $22 million through DHS national training program

    The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) announced it will receive $22 million in federal funding for its National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), which provides specialized homeland security and disaster preparedness training nationwide. Since it was established in 1998, NERRTC has enhanced preparedness by training more than 560,000 emergency responders, senior officials, public works staff, and medical personnel through delivery of more than 13,000 courses to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions.

  • Video games for STEM skills, diversity in middle schools

    An interdisciplinary team of researchers is launching an initiative which will use a custom-designed video game to boost computational thinking in middle school science classrooms. The goal is not only to improve educational outcomes, but also to foster gender and racial diversity in computer science and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

  • Cornell students hope to make the first CubeSat to orbit the moon

    Cislunar Explorers, a team of Cornell graduate and undergraduate students guided by Mason Peck, a former senior official at NASA, is attempting to boldly go where no CubeSat team has gone before: around the moon. The group attempting to make a first-ever moon orbit with a satellite no bigger than a cereal box, made entirely with off-the-shelf materials, and which uses water as a propellant. The Cislunar Explorers take part in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, which is offering a total of $5.5 million to teams that meet the challenge objectives: designing, building, and delivering flight-worthy, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the moon.

  • Training future problem solvers at DHS Centers of Excellence

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says that focusing on the future does not just mean focusing on the technology, research, and development. Focusing on the future also includes the specialized research and education programs at the university-based DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs). It is this approach that has led S&T’s Office of University Programs (OUP), which manages the COEs, to offer grants, internships, and summer research experiences to help undergraduate and graduate students and recent graduates gain real-world exposure to homeland security challenges both in the field and in the lab.

  • Teaching the next generation of cybersecurity professionals

    In 2003, I founded Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) with a group of students, with the simple goal of attracting more engineering students to our cybersecurity lab at NYU. Today, with as many as 20,000 students from around the globe participating, CSAW is the largest student-run cybersecurity event in the world. The ability quickly to adapt as new threats are perceived is a top priority for security personnel. That’s a key element of all CSAW competitions – the idea that successful cybersecurity is not limited to mastering what’s known. Rather, students and professionals alike must constantly push their abilities to intercept future threats in an ever-evolving field. The competitors in the CSAW-sponsored games and competitions, which take place in educational settings in the United States and around the world, will — not long from now — be the protectors of our most sensitive personal and national data. We need them to be prepared.

  • X-ray vision: Bomb technicians strengthen their hand with Sandia’s XTK software

    X-Ray Toolkit (XTK), an image-processing and analysis software developed at Sandia National Laboratories, has been adopted by the military and emergency response communities in the United States and around he world. “XTK is the standard in the field not only nationally, but internationally. It made the average bomb tech a better bomb tech,” said Craig Greene, a special agent and bomb technician at the Albuquerque, New Mexico FBI. “In the past twenty years, the bomb technician community has progressed from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century in terms of equipment and procedures, and XTK is a major part of that progression.”

  • DHS takes delivery of RadSeeker which identifies threat materials in shielded, masked, or concealed situations

    The first regular shipments of the Smiths Detection RadSeeker featuring Symetrica’s Discovery Technology Sub-System will begin this fall as the first part of a contract with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Symetrica’s Discovery Technology at the heart of RadSeeker identifies threat materials in shielded, masked, or concealed situations.

  • UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Wicked trade-offs between environmental, food security goals

    As world leaders gather in New York for the UN General Assembly, one year after the formal adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new study finds that policies focused solely on the environment tend to increase food prices. However, the study goes on to identify sustainable consumption and production practices as key to achieving both environmental and food security targets simultaneously.

  • Extraordinary global heat continues

    Although the seasonal temperature cycle typically peaks in July, August 2016 wound up tied with July 2016 for the warmest month ever recorded. August 2016’s temperature was 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest August (2014). The month also was 0.98 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean August temperature from 1951-1980, according to NASA. The increasing warming is driven by carbon dioxide concentrations – which have passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere so far this year. Levels vary according to the season, but the underlying trend is upward. According to NOAA, the global monthly mean CO2 in July 2016 was 401.72 parts per million, up from 393.13 parts per million in July 2015.

  • Sizable increase in U.S. R&D spending

    U.S. research and development (R&D) performance rose to $477.7 billion in 2014 — an increase of $21.1 billion over the previous year — and is estimated to hit $499.3 billion in 2015. adjusted for inflation, growth in U.S. total R&D performance averaged 1.2 percent annually between 2008 and 2014, matching the average pace of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

  • Climate change poses “strategically significant risk” to U.S. national security

    Twenty-five national security and military leaders the other day released a statement declaring that: “the effects of climate change present a strategically-significant risk to U.S. national security,” and urging a “comprehensive policy” in response. The authors of the statement say that stresses resulting from climate change can increase the likelihood of intra or international conflict, state failure, mass migration, and the creation of additional ungoverned spaces, across a range of strategically-significant regions. They add that the impacts of climate change will place significant strains on international financial stability through contributing to supply line disruptions for major global industries in the manufacturing, energy, agriculture, and water sectors, disrupting the viability of the insurance industry, and generally increasing the political and financial risks of doing business in an increasingly unstable global environment.

  • Do teachers’ climate change beliefs influence students? The answer is yes and no

    A study of middle school science classes explored whether teachers’ beliefs about climate change influenced students’ perceptions. “The answer is yes and no,” says the study’s author. “While students generally mirror a teacher’s belief that global warming is happening, when it comes to the cause of climate change, students reason for themselves and reach different conclusions than their teachers do.”

  • Virginia Tech’s Thinkabit Lab: Hands-on STEM learning for students, training for teachers

    Virginia Tech and Qualcomm Inc. begin a multiyear collaboration this fall with the launch of the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church. The Thinkabit Lab offers both teachers and students an engaging learning environment — part lab, makerspace, and classroom – aiming to foster creativity, collaboration, and the critical skills.

  • How building design changed after 9/11

    When buildings collapse killing hundreds – or thousands – of people, it’s a tragedy. It’s also an important engineering problem. For structural engineers like me, that meant figuring out what happened, and doing extensive research on how to improve buildings’ ability to withstand a terrorist attack. Research has found ways to keep columns and beams strong even when they are stressed and bent. This property is called ductility, and higher ductility could reduce the chance of progressive collapse. Mixing millions of high-strength needle-like steel microfibers into concrete – to prevent the spreading of any cracks that occur because of an explosion or other extreme force – creates material which is superstrong and very ductile. This material, called ultra-high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete, is extremely resistant to blast damage. As a result, we can expect future designers and builders to use this material to further harden their buildings against attack. It’s just one way we are contributing to the efforts to prevent these sorts of tragedies from happening in the future.

  • New forensic method identifies people using human hair proteins

    In an important breakthrough for the forensic science community, researchers have developed the first-ever biological identification method that exploits the information encoded in proteins of human hair. The new protein identification technique will offer another tool to law enforcement authorities for crime scene investigations and archaeologists, as the method has been able to detect protein in human hair more than 250 years old.