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DOE Report Shows Number Of Nuclear Engineering Graduates Increasing.

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (5/31, Munger) reports that according a study by the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, “the number of nuclear engineering graduates increased at U.S. universities in 2015, resuming a growth trend that was interrupted by a one-year dip” the previous year. Thirty-five universities that have nuclear engineering programs were surveyed by the institute. The University of Tennessee “last year awarded 40 bachelor’s degrees in nuclear engineering, 28 master’s degrees, and nine doctorates.” In an email Wes Hines, head of UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering program, said, “We see nuclear engineering enrollment and employment opportunities still strong.” Atomic City Underground  (5/29) carries the same article.

Article posted: 05/31/2016

Undersea Robot Sparks Controversy Related To Anthropomorphism In Robotics.

Wired (5/11) reports on a humanoid undersea robot developed by Stanford University roboticist Oussama Khatib called OceanOne. Which “elicits mixed emotions” “with its graceful, streamlined body but oh, also, claws and dead eyes.” The piece says “OceanOne is in fact an emblem of a battle over the future of robotics: Humanoid bots are getting roboticists riled up, and not just because they’re creepy.”

Article posted: 05/23/2016

Grid Security Subject Of DOE Workshop.

Bloomberg BNA (5/13) reports “grid operators, utilities, and energy companies say that the energy industry and the federal government need to continue to work together to improve protection of the US electricity grid from cyber and physical attacks.” Experts spoke during an Energy Department workshop last week “about the growing number of cyber and physical threats on the electricity grid, especially with the introduction of more microgrids and distributed energy resources that further decentralize the grid, making it more vulnerable.” DOE’s senior control security consultant Curtis St. Michel said, “I believe [cybersecurity] is a national responsibility. ... There is a capability out there to corrupt our critical energy systems, and it is one of the functions of various elements of the government to respond to that.” Bloomberg adds “several of the electricity specialists said that additional federal funding is needed to harden transmission infrastructure so it can withstand physical attacks from weather events.”

Article posted: 05/17/2016

IBM Partnering With Eight Universities To Train “Watson” For Cybersecurity.

The Washington Post (5/10, Peterson) reports IBM will be partnering with eight universities to train its “computer brain,” Watson, to handle cybersecurity. The Post says the “end goal is a big data approach to cybersecurity that will have Watson automatically scour vast troves of security research at a rate human operators couldn’t possibly manage to investigate when something fishy hits a victim’s computer systems.” IBM says the system will not be designed to replace cybersecurity staffers, but “the system could help them prioritize the almost never-ending flow of alerts heading their way.” ZDNet (5/10, Dignan) reports the research program to create “Watson for Cyber Security” is scheduled to last a year.

Article posted: 05/11/2016

Scientists Looking To Recycle CO2 Waste.

The New York Times (5/2, Fountain, Subscription Publication) reports scientists are increasingly looking for ways to recycle CO2 instead of throwing it away. The X Prize Foundation has created an incentive to do just that with a $20 million prize for teams that come up with such technologies by 2020. The ultimate goal would be to turn “the waste product of fuel-burning into new fuel.” California Institute of Technology materials scientist Harry Atwater, who heads the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, leads a team that is trying to mimic plants by taking CO2 and water “and, using only sunlight, turn it into fuel.” However, Atwater is “realistic about the challenges,” and says the “energy and catalysis problems of humanity will not have been resolved five years from now.” The center, started with a grant from the Energy Department, has labs at the Lawerence Berkley National Laboratory and Caltech.

Article posted: 05/03/2016