News Briefs

February 14, 2014
By Helen Mosher

Five universities have received funding to implement UTeach science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) preparatory programs, thanks to a $22.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The UTeach program, supported by the National Math and Science Initiative, helps generate awareness of the need for STEM education among college students interested in these fields and prepares these students for successful teaching careers. Currently, more than 6,000 students are in the UTeach program at 35 universities nationwide.

February 6, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released a catalog of some of its fundamental and applied research in computer science. The catalog includes software, publications, data and detailed results of experiments.

January 21, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The U.S. Army recently encouraged science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by sponsoring a robotics contest for Texas middle and high school students. The VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) held in San Antonio comprised more than 50 teams from Texas schools.

January 17, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

The U.S. Defense Department will deploy version 1.0 of its unclassified mobility capability on January 31 with plans to expand the capacity to support up to 100,000 users by the end of the fiscal year. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is the lead agency for the program and has made substantial progress toward delivering the capability.

January 14, 2014
By Cyndy Hogan

Researchers have taken the concept of radar and sonar imaging a step further to track people, even through walls. Wi-Vi, which Dina Katabi and her graduate student Fadel Adib are developing at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, transmits a low-power Wi-Fi signal and uses its reflections to track human movement. Katabi is a professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The system uses two transmit antennas and a single receiver.

January 16, 2014
By Helen Mosher

A competition for student programmers will recognize the importance of other disciplines and focus areas than the ones commonly associated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), such as art (design), diversity and digital literacy. “Dream it. Code it. Win it.” is organized by MIT and TradingScreen and will award more than $50,000 in scholarships and prizes to winners of the competition. Entrants must be at least 18 years old and enrolled at accredited colleges and universities in the United States. The deadline for entry is March 30, 2014.

January 10, 2014
By Helen Mosher

Florida State University (FSU) has received more than $14 million in grants to create a program that will provide focused training, resources and support to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers.

January 9, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. intelligence community has taken some flak lately for infiltrating online games, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft. A just-released report commissioned by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, however, posits that the technology could be abused by extremists.

January 7, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selected eight teams eligible to receive up to $1 million to continue their work following the conclusion of the agency’s Robotics Challenge trials. These top teams will now prepare for the finals, which will occur at some point in the next 12-18 months. The robots performed a series of eight simple tasks, such as walking a short distance or cutting a hole in a wall, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Florida. DARPA designed the tasks to simulate what a future robot might have to do to safely enter and effectively work inside a disaster zone.

January 2, 2014

Students interested in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) need to mark their calendars to apply to attend the U.S. Naval Academy’s 2014 summer STEM program. Participants will learn what it takes to become an engineer through exploration, problem solving and discovery. The application process opens online on January 6 and closes on April 15. The session for students who will enter 8th and 9th grades in the 2014-2015 school year takes place June 2-7. Rising 10th graders will attend sessions June 9-14. The rising 11th graders session takes place June 16-20.

December 31, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

NASA could send a team of astronauts into space to explore an asteroid located close to the Earth's orbit, according to Harvard University. The NASA Asteroid Robotic Retrieval Mission would involve capturing a near Earth object called NEO 2009BD, dragging it onto a new trajectory that traps it in the Earth-moon system and investigating it. A near Earth object is an asteroid whose orbit brings it close to the Earth's orbit.

This particular asteroid was discovered in January 2009. Its orbit pattern puts the object close to the Earth-moon system again in late 2022, when the proposed mission would take place.

January 3, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) is seeking comments on a request for proposals partial draft in preparation for contracting a company to operate a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) that will focus solely on securing U.S. information systems. The plan is to award a single indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with firm fixed price, labor hour or cost reimbursement task orders. Currently, the proposed base period for the maximum $400 million contract is five years.

December 30, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced the six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) sites available for conducting operations research and testing. Test site operators will perform their research at the University of Alaska; Griffiss International Airport, New York; Texas A&M University; and Virginia Tech, as well as in the states of Nevada and North Dakota. Investigations will include system safety and data gathering; aircraft certification; command and control link issues; control station layout and certification; ground and airborne sense and avoid capabilities; and environmental impacts.

December 27, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has joined the UN and the White House in establishing a Thunderclap account. The agency’s goal is to encourage citizens to be prepared for emergencies. Thunderclap syncs social media accounts to release an automatic Facebook post, tweet or both. By signing up and using #Prepared2014 throughout 2014, friends and followers will be reminded to be ready for natural disasters and man-made emergencies throughout the year.

December 20, 2013
By George Seffers

The U.S. Army announced today that the Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) headquarters will be located at Fort Gordon, Georgia, consolidating and coordinating Army cyber and network operations under one commander for the first time in its history.

December 18, 2013

The U.S. Coast Guard will release its 2013 Top 10 videos on December 22, highlighting its achievements and asking members of the public to vote for their favorites. The Coast Guard Compass will publish one of the 10 videos each day beginning Sunday. Each video will include commentary from a service member who participated in the mission. The public will vote by liking their favorites on the Coast Guard’s Facebook page or on the Coast Guard’s YouTube channel. Voting will be open through January 13, 2014.

December 19, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

NASA has selected 10 education organizations to share approximately $7.7 million in grants with the hope of attracting more students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. The money will go toward interactive exhibits, virtual worlds, professional development activities and community-based programs.

December 11, 2013

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) demonstrated the launch of an all-electric, fuel cell-powered unmanned aerial system (UAS) from a submerged submarine. Operating under support of the USS Providence and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Newport Division, the NRL developed the eXperimental Fuel Cell (XFC) UAS, which was fired from the submarine’s torpedo tube using a Sea Robin launch vehicle system. The Sea Robin launch system was designed to fit within an empty Tomahawk launch canister (TLC). Once deployed from the TLC, the Sea Robin launch vehicle with an integrated XFC rose to the ocean surface.

December 11, 2013
By Rita Boland

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have created “Tinker Toys for chemists” by devising a new way to realize electrical conductivity in metal-organic framework (MOF) materials. The technique increases the property in one MOF by more than six orders of magnitude. While Tinker Toys connect by using sticks to link wood pieces, the MOFs employ metal ions and organic molecules to create the same effect. By filling the empty space with guest molecules, scientists achieved the greater electrical conduction.

December 9, 2013

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently joined with a coalition of private-sector partners from the telecommunications industry to expand the Warriors 4 Wireless pilot program, a new nonprofit effort aimed at connecting veterans and returning service members to jobs in the rapidly growing wireless telecommunications industry. The program is designed to help address the shortage of skilled jobs for returning veterans while satisfying the wireless industry’s immediate need for skilled employees.

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