|Good morning || March 18, 2020|
Leading the News
Congress Negotiating Over Airline Bailouts
Reuters (3/17, Shepardson) reports that some Congressional Democrats “are pushing back on aspects” of a proposal from Airlines for America that would provide $25 billion in grants and $25 billion in loans and tax relief to US commercial airlines and $8 billion for cargo carriers. Democrats “are expected to back assistance to the sector,” but staffers expect the legislators “will likely demand significant conditions as part of any bailout and its form is still uncertain.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is pushing for an industry bailout that prioritizes workers, and others want to reign in some environmental and business practices. Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said he met with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Mnuchin on Tuesday to discuss the impact of the outbreak on the aviation sector, and Pelosi and DeFazio “emphasized that protecting workers’ paychecks and benefits was their top priority, and that immediate action was needed.” DeFazio and Pelosi held a phone call with airline CEOs later on Tuesday.
The Hill (3/17, Carney, Elis, Gangitano) reports that Republican Senators “appeared lukewarm to the idea of a bailout,” though they “also appeared to acknowledge that airlines are likely to need government assistance to weather the storm.” Republican Sens. John Thune (SD), John Cornyn (TX), Richard Shelby (AL), Joni Ernst (IA), and Mike Braun (IN) are quoted in the article having reservations about voting for a bailout but recognizing the importance. Shelby said he would support collateralized loans, but, “as far as writing a check for bailout, I’d be totally against that.” Trump said that after his administration’s plan is implemented, “the airline industry will be in good shape.”
Business Insider (3/17, Rapier) reports that Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said federal money given to the airlines “must have some major strings attached,” including “new rules to prohibit consumer abuses like unfair change and cancellation fees; protections for front-line workers like flight attendants, pilots, and airport workers; special consideration for our smaller, regional carriers not represented by the major trade associations; and the development of long-term strategies and targets to reduce the carbon footprint of the airline industry.” Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson said that a bailout should “include restrictions on stock buy backs, dividends, executive bonuses, using funds in any way to undermine worker rights,” as well as “other key provisions for long-term protections for workers, our families, our contracts, and our jobs.” The Transportation Workers Union “went a step further” and are “urging lawmakers to consider limits on further increases in executive compensation as part of any federal assistance” and a ban on “Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings by companies that receive federal funds for five years.”
Democratic Lawmakers Want Airline Bailout To Include Measures To Limit Carbon Emissions. The Hill (3/17, Beitsch) reports that “a number of Senate Democrats say any airline bailout package must include measures that limit carbon emissions from the industry.” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) tweeted on Tuesday that “carbon offsets should be a condition for any such bailouts.” International Council on Clean Transportation Program Director for Marine and Aviation Dan Rutherford said “If you had just a straight bailout or [jet] fuel subsidy I think you’re ... not going to get the new investments that you need. ... But if you go a different route and provide incentives for airlines to retire the less fuel efficient aircraft used on marginal routes, that could move the ball forward.”
IATA Estimates Global Airlines Need $200 Billion In Government Support. Reuters (3/17) reports that airlines “need to up to $200 billion of government support to help them survive the coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday.” IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac “said governments needed to act decisively to support carriers as many of the companies are running out of cash.” De Juniac said, “If we want to maintain a strong airline sector able to cope with this difficult crisis and provide the resources to ensure the recovery will happen in due time, we need governments to act strongly and quickly.” The “$150 billion to $200 billion IATA estimate includes indirect support such as loan guarantees and comes after U.S. airlines asked for a $50 billion bailout on Monday.”
Some Students Lack Access To Shelter, Food Or Wi-Fi Following College Campuses Closures
The Los Angeles Times (3/17, Esquivel, Watanabe) reports in response to the new coronavirus, colleges throughout the country have “asked students to leave campus and not expect to return for the remainder of the semester as the school shifts to online classes.” But campus officials also “must balance those concerns against the fact that some students may not have access to shelter, food or Wi-Fi and see their campus as a safer space to stay.” Notably, many “smaller institutions such as Pomona have responded somewhat differently, requiring students to leave campus unless approved to stay via a petition process.”
California Universities Moving Classes Online In Response To Coronavirus; Students Call For Tuition Refund
EdSource (3/17) reports all “23 California State University campuses and all nine University of California campuses with undergraduate courses have now made plans to move classes online in response to the spread of the coronavirus.” Some universities have said “classes that cannot easily be converted to online instruction, such as lab courses, may continue to meet in-person while other courses are conducted in remote settings.”
Meanwhile, reports EdSource (3/17), University of California Irvine freshman Rose Oganesian has “organized an online petition campaign that seeks at least a partial tuition refund for students, whether they start their spring quarter later this month, as she will, or already are in the midst of spring semester.” Oganesian and others believe the “tuition for UC Irvine’s spring quarter should be cut in half.” More than “6,700 people have signed the online petition being posted by change.org. It originally was aimed at UC Irvine but was amended to include all public campuses in California.”
All Florida State Universities To Hold Classes Online Until Semester Ends
The Orlando (FL) Business Journal (3/17, Subscription Publication) reports the University of Central Florida and “all other state universities will keep classes online for the rest of the semester.” All commencement ceremonies have been canceled as well. Gov. Ron DeSantis “said during the news conference he believed some students were ignoring warnings to stay away from campus and avoid large gatherings” during the coronavirus outbreak.
Opinion: Universities Must Take Action To Help Vulnerable Students During Campus Closures
In a piece published by USA Today (3/17), an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana says while closing campuses is the “responsible thing...to do” in response to the coronavirus outbreak, it “seems that academia is largely unprepared for the resulting financial and housing crises, which inevitably will bring stress and hardship to many students.” This is especially true for international and low-income students, as well as those who are homeless. But, argues Esther Ngumbi, there are “actions universities can take to ease some anxieties students may have in these turbulent times.”
ASEE's Online Collaboration Forum During Virus Crisis
ASEE has created a Facebook group for collaboration during this unique period. We'll discuss best practices, brainstorm ideas for online labs, discuss alternative teaching methods, and more. Learn more here.
Webinar – Storytelling to Advance Research and Teaching
pril 9 at 1 PM, ET: What’s your story? Tune in for a free webinar to learn how storytelling techniques can be used to propel your research and teaching, helping you communicate research impacts, write proposals, share best teaching practices, and teach difficult concepts. Register today at http://bit.ly/3c99jba
Webinar – Training Tomorrow’s Engineers to Combat Climate Change
April 15 at 1 PM, ET: In support of Earth Day 2020, tune in for a new webinar and learn how two NSF-funded projects, RISE-UP and ReNUWIt, are training tomorrow’s engineers to build resilience and combat the effects of climate change through robust interdisciplinary initiatives. Register today: http://bit.ly/2Tlt4F9
Research and Development
Electric Aircraft Will Arrive Sooner Than People Think
Business Insider (3/17) reports that “electric aircraft are coming – and they’ll be here sooner than you think.” Lux Research analyst Chloe Holzinger said, “We expect to see that market really start to take off this year.” Holzinger “tracks the battery industry and predicts that demand from the aviation sector is among the most powerful forces fueling the emerging $550 billion market for energy storage.” That’s a positive thing “because a quiet flight free of the scent of jet fuel sounds delightful” and additionally “because the aviation industry is a big polluter.” The Federal Aviation Administration “allows for the certification of some electric versions of winged planes – meaning the agency deems them safe to fly, Holzinger said.”
NASA Selects Four Finalists For Small Astrophysics Mission Studies
Space News (3/17, Foust, Subscription Publication) reports that NASA “has selected four finalists for the agency’s next small astrophysics mission, including both spacecraft and International Space Station experiments to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena.” NASA “announced March 16 the selection of two Small Explorer, or SMEX, missions and two smaller Missions of Opportunity for further study.” Director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division Paul Hertz said in a statement, “Each of these missions would take the next steps in some of the hottest areas of astrophysics today.”
ExecutiveGov (3/17) reports that the four finalists’ studies are for what is called the NASA’s Explorers Program, which is “meant to support low-cost space access and provide insight into stellar flares, planetary atmosphere, cosmic explosions and the resulting debris.” On Tuesday, NASA “selected two studies on ultraviolet flare analysis and spectrometer-based imaging of the Milky Way for the ‘Small Explorer’ increment of the program.”
NASA, National Academies Discussed Process For Holding Decadel Survey To Determine NASA’s 2020 Agenda
SPACE (3/17, Bartels) reports that on Monday in a digital town hall, National Academies and NASA officials discussed the process for “holding a major survey process that will dictate NASA’s priorities throughout the 2020,” which happens once every ten years. This “cycle of the decadal survey is just beginning; the most recent step was to agree on the so-called ‘statement of task,’ which guides the committee that surveys scientists and writes the final document.” For the “first time, that statement of task directs the committee to consider planetary defense within its purview, as well as planetary science and astrobiology.” A “second key addition to the decadal survey statement of task is to consider ways that the three disciplines can benefit from NASA’s human-exploration program, most notably the Artemis program that aims to land astronauts on the moon in 2024.”
Automakers, UAW Agree To Partial Shutdown To Protect Workers From Coronavirus
The Detroit Free Press (3/17, LaReau) reports the “Detroit Three automakers and the UAW agreed to new measures late Tuesday to protect factory workers from coronavirus, the union said.” The automakers “will find ways to improve social distancing between workers at its factories and agreed to review and implement a rotating partial shutdown of facilities,” which “basically means curbing production.” Each company “will announce its own plans, but one way would be to reduce three shifts to two shifts, which would allow more time to clean and offer less contact between workers.” To “enact the changes, each company will be working with UAW vice presidents and will be arranging shifts set to adhere to CDC-required social distancing and protection of members,” and “the UAW will release more detailed information in the next 24 hours, it said.”
Survey: 24% Of Employers Would Downsize If Outbreak Worsens
USA Today (3/17, Bomey) reports that if the coronavirus outbreak worsens, about 24 percent of employers “plan to downsize, according to a survey of business owners conducted March 7-13 by investment bank UBS.” Economists say employees in the restaurant and travel sectors are most at risk of job cuts. U.S. companies “have already announced more than 1,000 job cuts as a result of the outbreak, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas and USA TODAY research.”
Airbus May Need Help From Government If Coronavirus Outbreak Lasts Months
Reuters (3/17) reports that Airbus “has signaled that some government support may be needed if the coronavirus crisis lasts for several months, three people familiar with the matter said.” The “prospect of a worst-case scenario in which state help becomes necessary was raised in crisis talks on Monday between Germany’s economy ministry and aviation industry representatives including Franco-German-led Airbus, they said.” An Airbus spokesman said, “We are having regular dialogues with our home nation governments which are all non-public in nature which is why we do not comment on them.” So far “there has been no discussion of dedicated bailouts or direct cash injections for the aerospace sector, but liquidity is an overriding concern, industry sources said.”
Advertiser Supplied Content
Nature’s Brilliance. RIT’s Ingenuity
Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology, assigned her students this project: Design a robotic creature to move as sinuously as a fish. Whimsical, but it’s serious science where flexible muscles could be part of better assistive technologies for people, such as prosthetics to help those with disabilities regain fine motor skills and mobility. Successful outcomes are one of RIT’s specialties for our students and for the world.
Boeing Seeks $60 Billion In Government Aid For Aerospace Industry Hit By Coronavirus
CNBC (3/17, Josephs) reports that President Donald Trump “earlier said his administration would support Boeing, a top U.S. defense contractor and one of the two biggest airplane makers in the world.” Boeing “said the funds could come in the form of loan guarantees for the company and the rest of the aerospace industry, which includes companies like United Technologies, General Electric and Spirit AeroSystems.”
Reuters (3/17, Shepardson) reports that on Tuesday, Boeing “called for a $60 billion lifeline for the struggling U.S. aerospace manufacturing industry, which faces huge losses from the coronavirus pandemic.” Boeing Vice President Government Operations Communications Gordon Johndroe said Boeing “supports a minimum of $60 billion in access to public and private liquidity, including loan guarantees, for the aerospace manufacturing industry.”
Intelsat Selects SpaceX To Launch Geostationary Communications Satellite
Space News (3/17, Henry, Subscription Publication) reports that Intelsat has selected SpaceX “to launch the Intelsat-40e geostationary communications satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket in 2022.” Intelsat-40e “will be the second Intelsat satellite to launch on a SpaceX rocket, following the Intelsat-35e Falcon 9 mission in 2017.” Max Technology is building Intelsat-40e, which “will also carry NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) hosted payload under a NASA contract with Maxar.” Intelsat-40e “will provide connectivity in Ku- and Ka-band over North America, supporting customers in government, in-flight connectivity and enterprise businesses, according to Intelsat.”
Tesla To Keep Fremont Factory Open Despite Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place Order
The San Francisco Chronicle (3/17, DiFeliciantonio) reports Tesla “will not close down its Fremont plant despite a shelter-in-place order in effect in Alameda County and five other Bay Area counties meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the region.” CEO Elon Musk “told employees in an email Monday night that if they feel even slightly ill that they should not come to work,” but he expressed doubt the virus will infect a significant number of Americans.
Engineering and Public Policy
US Proposes New Regulation For Autonomous Vehicles
The AP (3/17, Krisher) reports the US government is proposing a new regulation “aimed at changing passenger safety standards in autonomous vehicles.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the proposed regulation would “apply front passenger seat protection standards to the traditional driver’s seat of an autonomous vehicle, rather than safety requirements that are specific to the driver’s seat.” The rationale is that “an occupant should not need protection from a steering control system if none exists in the vehicle,” the proposed regulation says. The public has 60 days to respond to the proposal before NHTSA enacts a regulation.
US To Go Ahead With 50% Tariff Increase On Airbus Planes
Reuters (3/17, Lawder, Shalal) reports that the US “is expected to proceed with a 50% increase in U.S. tariffs on Airbus planes on Wednesday, U.S. and European officials say, further hampering U.S. airlines seeking government aid, with travel sharply reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.” The increase will be from 10 percent to 15 percent as the US “pressures the EU to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling on illegal aircraft subsidies.” Several EU officials “said they had no indication that Washington would delay the tariff increase,” and an Airbus spokesman “in Washington also said there was no sign of a reprieve.”
Opinion: Now Is The Time To Invest In Opportunities That Empower Students To Learn About STEM Education
In a piece published by the Tennessean (3/17), BioTN Foundation co-founder Samuel Lynch and Ted Townsend, the Chairman of Life Science Tennessee, say there has “never been a more important time to create and invest in opportunities that empower our students to learn about the STEM education program.” To that end, we “need more teachers with demonstrated, proven knowledge in STEM before we can hope to improve STEM education, and we need to provide them with better resources to ensure that they have the necessary tools to integrate STEM in their curriculums.” The pair go on to say that when “our students are given the option to explore STEM, our job market, economy and state benefit.”
Also in the News
Zoom Becomes Primary Social Platform For Millions Amid Coronavirus-Related School Closures
The New York Times (3/17, Lorenz, Griffith, Isaac) reports that “overnight, Zoom has become a primary social platform for millions of people, a lot of them high school and college students, as those institutions move to online learning.” On Sunday, “nearly 600,000 people downloaded the app, its biggest day ever, according to Apptopia, which tracks mobile apps.” But the California-based videoconferencing company has been “preparing for this moment since the new coronavirus began spreading in China in January.” Even then it was “easy to see that Zoom’s primary customer base – videoconferencing desk workers – would become more reliant on its services while quarantined at home.”
Tuesday's Lead Stories
This complimentary copy of First Bell was sent to you at firstname.lastname@example.org as a service to the engineering & technology education community.
For information about ASEE member benefits, please contact ASEE Member Services at email@example.com or 202-331-3520.
American Society for Engineering Education | 1818 N Street, N.W., Suite 600 | Washington, DC 20036
Copyright © 2020 by Bulletin Media | 11190 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 20 | Reston, VA 20191