• Disaster and recovery: The unexpected shall come to be expected

    In the days following the Nepal earthquake, the media has been focusing on the heart-wrenching human interest and hero-tragedy stories, but what must be emphasized is that this disaster was anticipated. More importantly, we now have the tools and building technologies to mitigate the impact of even major earthquakes. The frequency of earthquakes has not changed over the past few million years, but now millions of people live in vulnerable situations. The unexpected must come to be expected. Much-needed humanitarian assistance must transition into long-term development efforts. Simply put, instilling a culture of disaster risk reduction, investing in hazard mitigation, building as best as we can, and retrofitting what remains, will save lives.

  • DoD invests in STEM education

    The Department of Defense (DOD) is making an investment to ensure military children have access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education with the expansion of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) College Readiness Program. The program has experienced an 82 percent increase in qualifying advanced placement math and science scores in just the first year of the College Readiness Program for military-connected children. DOD notes that thanks the expanded program, an additional 17,000 military-connected students will have access to STEM education, bringing the program’s total impact to 50,000 military-connected students throughout the nation.

  • STEM education, STEM jobs, and immigration

    Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is a leading critic of immigration reform which would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants, and a chief proponent of limiting the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States. One of his arguments is that Americans with college STEM degrees cannot get a job in their fields because these jobs are taken by skilled foreigners. There are two problems with Sessions’s argument: First, his definition of “STEM job” is so narrow, that Apple CEO Tim Cook and a Noble Prize scientist who works as a university professor would not be regarded as holding STEM jobs; second, his argument contradicts what basic economic teaches: Skilled immigrants contribute to American prosperity and security, and the labor market is not a zero-sum proposition.

  • Doubts about burying CO2 underground to address climate change

    Burying the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, has been mooted as one geoengineering approach to ameliorating climate change. To be effective, trapping the gas in geological deposits would be for the very long term — thousands of years. Now, researchers have reviewed the risk assessments for this technology, suggesting that a lack of knowledge means we should be cautious of turning to this method rather than finding sustainable ways to reduce emissions at their source.

  • Joplin, Missouri hospital re-built to withstand powerful tornadoes

    In 2011 St. John’s Medical Center in Joplin, Missouri was devastated by one of the most ferocious tornadoes in U.S history. Today, Mercy Hospital Joplinstands on the site of the former hospital, occupying a new structure designed to survive future tornadoes, with windows that can withstand 250-mile-per-hour winds. The buildingis covered in concrete and brick paneling, and houses an underground bunker where generators and boilers are kept.

  • How much science, math homework is too much?

    When it comes to adolescents with math and science homework, more is not necessarily better — an hour a day is optimal — but doing it alone and regularly produces the biggest knowledge gain, according to new research. “Our data indicate that it is not necessary to assign huge quantities of homework, but it is important that assignment is systematic and regular, with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-regulated learning,” said one of the researchers.

  • Louisiana Tech’s concrete canoe, steel bridge teams win big at ASCE competition

    The Louisiana Tech University’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge teams swept the 2015 Deep South Conference competition in Oxford, Mississippi recently, bringing nine awards back to Louisiana Tech and earning spots in the national competitions. The Deep South Conference competition, which includes teams from universities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, is held annually to enhance student knowledge of techniques, professionalism, and ethics as they relate to civil engineering, and to allow students to apply the principles and concepts they have learned in their undergraduate studies.

  • Damage-sensing, self-repairing concrete

    Skin is renewable and self-repairing — our first line of defense against the wear and tear of everyday life. If damaged, a myriad of repair processes spring into action to protect and heal the body. Clotting factors seal the break, a scab forms to protect the wound from infection, and healing agents begin to generate new tissue. Taking inspiration from this remarkable living healthcare package, researchers are asking whether damage sensing and repair can be engineered into a quite different material: concrete. Their aim is to produce a “material for life,” one with an in-built first-aid system that responds to all manner of physical and chemical damage by self-repairing, over and over again.

  • U.S. engineering schools to educate 20,000 students to meet U.S. major engineering challenges

    In a letter of commitment presented to President Barack Obama at the White House Science Fair yesterday, 122 U.S. engineering schools announced plans to educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the twenty-first century. Each of the 122 signing schools has pledged to graduate a minimum of twenty students per year who have been specially prepared to lead the way in solving such large-scale problems, with the goal of training more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade.

  • Lockheed Martin recognized for supporting young girls’ STEM education

    Over the next eight years there will be more jobs available in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) than any other occupation. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) recently presented Lockheed Martin with its first “Invaluable” award for championing education programs that inspire the next generation of women engineers and technologists. Since 2010, Lockheed Martin has given more than $45 million to programs that promote STEM education.

  • High school study in math declining among prospective teachers

    Math and science participation among New South Wales, Australia high school students has declined starkly over the past decade, which in turn is leading to fewer teachers with this crucial background for their work in schools, according to new research. “STEM is considered critical to all new economies. Yet, unlike many countries which show improving standards on international assessments of math and science, Australian 15 year olds’ scores have been declining since 2000,” said one of the researchers.

  • Improving chemistry teaching throughout North America

    The Dow Chemical Company and the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) are partnering to invigorate chemistry education and support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in the nation’s schools. Dow and AACT will work together to convene a series of teacher summits and create more than 750 lesson plans, multimedia resources, demonstrations, and other high-quality chemistry teaching materials for use in K–12 classrooms. The work will be supported by a $1 million contribution from Dow to the AACT spread over a four year period.

  • Consistency, collaboration needed for effective implementation of science teaching standards

    A new report just released today by the National Research Council offers guidance to district and school leaders and teachers on necessary steps for putting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into practice over the next decade and beyond. The report’s recommendations are informed by research findings that emphasize that science and engineering involve both knowing and doing; that developing rich, conceptual understanding is more productive for future learning than simply memorizing discrete facts; and learning experiences should be designed with coherent progressions over multiple years.

  • Colleges, labs develop STEM core curriculum

    The success of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Engineering Technology Program to educate veterans for technical careers has inspired a statewide push to create an educational core curriculum to prepare junior college students for technical jobs at California’s national labs. The core curriculum being designed by a consortium of community colleges, national labs, and nonprofit educational institutes emphasizes a heavy focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses to prepare women, minorities, veterans, and other underserved populations for high-paying jobs as technologists.

  • Micro-capsules and bacteria used in self-healing concrete

    Researchers are aiming to develop a novel self-healing concrete that uses an inbuilt immune system to close its own wounds and prevent deterioration. Self-healing concrete could vastly increase the life of concrete structures, and would remove the need for repairs, reducing the lifetime cost of a structure by up to 50 percent. Over seven per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions are caused by cement production, so reducing the amount required by extending the lifetime of structures and removing the need for repairs will have a significant environmental impact.