Thursday, July 31, 2008
Just a note to clarify the visit to LTU's Engineering building @ 11:30 am (Thursday) on 7-31-08 to see how DTE grid-tied inverters work. We can also visit the PV panel installation on the roof and the battery room that powers the LED Bollard lights and is primarily also powered by the Solar Photo-Voltaic system.
P.S. Casey can I get the contact information for your DTE Energy account representative, please?
Monday, July 28, 2008
Teach high school students the rudiments of creating a new business through an actual case and follow the case to a profitable fruition. Furnish a starting idea, the Rickshaw.
Funding the Project
Sunday, July 27, 2008
- Survey the Installation Location and discuss the intentional installation logisitics
- Determine priorities and time-line
- Determine "next steps"
- "Larger Picture" possibilities
- Space Allocation (Upgrades Aligning to Purpose)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Tour facility and determine alignment to purpose, Mariah Wind Power Project next steps (Jim Bates), under the radar opportunities, NSF ITEST Grant Initiative, 3-D CAD "Exemplar Pilot" possibilities, etc.
Project-Based Learning "Pilot Program"
Macomb Community College
Automation Alley (Global Trade Mission)
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
School aid plan gets Senate approval
Funding increase not enough, some say
BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF and LORI HIGGINS • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS • July 18, 2008
LANSING -- The state Senate approved a school budget compromise Thursday that would give school districts an additional $56 to $122 per pupil and set aside $15 million for districts to create new, smaller high schools aimed at reducing dropout rates.
The House is expected to take action on the school budget when it returns to session Wednesday. The $13.4-billion school aid plan would be the last large piece of the 2008-09 budget to be enacted. Lawmakers finished most of the rest of the budget before they broke for summer recess two weeks ago.
But some school officials say that although they're pleased to see an increase, it won't come close to covering their rising costs.
"Our fuel costs went up 42%, our health care costs are increasing about 10% and our retirement costs continue to go up. Those are double-digit increases," said Betsy Erikson, spokeswoman for Bloomfield Hills Schools, which would see an increase in state funding of less than 1%.
Richard Repicky, superintendent at Fraser Public Schools, said this will be the seventh year in a row the district will have received a state increase of about 1%.
"If it was one year at 1%, we'd be fine. But seven years in a row at 1% is killing school districts."
The $15 million for smaller high schools is less than half of the $32 million Gov. Jennifer Granholm had requested. The fund would give out $3 million in direct start-up grants to some districts with high dropout rates, rather than pay off bonds to build the revamped high schools.
Senate Republicans, who hold a majority, held fast against selling more state bonds for the school plan, which Granholm had proposed.
The basic grant to all schools would increase depending on how much each district now receives; lower-spending districts would receive larger increases. The increases are about half of what Granholm originally proposed because state revenues have come in less than expected since January.
The conference committee agreement also would add $10 million to early childhood education programs.
Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, chairman of the House-Senate conference, predicted most of the increase will pay for school districts' increased costs for heating and gasoline for buses.
Robert LeFevre, lobbyist for the Macomb Intermediate School District, said he doubts the state will have the money to pay for the proposed increases by the end of the year because of a still-faltering economy.
"We've told our districts to budget as low as possible," LeFevre said. "It's very uncertain what the numbers will be."
The budget deal also calls for a change in the definition of what constitutes a first-class school district, although the impact of the change was not immediately clear.
Currently, only a district with 100,000 pupils or more qualifies as a first-class district. Only Detroit meets that threshold, which gives it some financial protections and also prevents community colleges from sponsoring charter schools in its boundaries.
The funding bill eliminates a long-standing provision that prohibits other school districts from establishing their own schools or programs within the City of Detroit without the Detroit school board's permission. That would not apply to charter schools, however, which are governed by a separate law. But the district is expected to fall below 100,000 students this fall, and the state school aid bill would drop the minimum enrollment to 60,000 for a first-class district.
However, the definition of a first-class school district also is in the school code, and that may need to be amended to make the change effective, according to district spokesman Steve Wasko.
"We certainly feel it was an appropriate move from the Senate," Wasko said.
Contact CHRIS CHRISTOFF at 517-372-8660 or email@example.com.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
July 17, 2008
EDUCATION: Science grads fall short of new goal
An effort begun three years ago to double the number of students graduating from U.S. colleges with science-related degrees by 2015 has made little progress, said a coalition of business groups pushing the initiative.
The number of undergraduate degrees awarded in math, science, engineering and technology increased by only 24,000 a year from 2001 to 2006, according to a report issued Tuesday by Tapping America's Potential. That's short of what's needed to reach the goal of 400,000 math and science graduates a year by 2015, said Susan Traiman, public policy director of the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives.
A shortage of graduates trained in disciplines such as mathematics, computer science and physics is hurting U.S. companies, Traiman said. Although President George W. Bush signed the America Competes Act last year to improve U.S. performance in math and science, the measure didn't lead to increased federal spending, she said.
About 225,700 college students graduated with science-related degrees in 2006, the group's report said. The number of computer science graduates dropped following the widespread failure of Internet companies at the beginning of this decade and hasn't rebounded, Traiman said.
U.S. high school students score 21st or lower on indexes comparing math and science aptitude among students of different countries, the report found.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
15 schools to back 200 firms
BY KATHERINE YUNG • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER • July 16, 2008
In what could be a key boost to Michigan's economy, the state's 15 public universities plan to announce today a new effort to create 200 start-up companies over the next decade.
The Michigan Initiative for Innovation & Entrepreneurship aims to award $75 million in entrepreneurship grants over the next seven years. The money will help speed the development of new ventures created at the schools as well as support entrepreneurial education and internship programs.
"We expect to create companies and also benefit companies with the resources of the institutions," said James Baker, director of Michigan Technological University's Office of Technology and Economic Development. "It is very unique and very ambitious."
The initiative, which was led by top administrators at the University of Michigan, reflects the bigger role that the state's public universities hope to play in reviving Michigan's ailing economy.
With the auto industry employing fewer people, Michiganders' interest in starting businesses has soared. Universities have discovered they can help contribute to this entrepreneurial environment by working more cooperatively with local companies and transferring more of their technology to the real world.
The new effort takes this idea a step further by combining the resources and creativity of each school. "We can be more effective collectively," Baker said.
To kick off the effort, the schools today plan to announce $1.3 million in grants to 20 research projects and educational programs at 13 of the universities.
One grant for $100,000 will go toward a new commercialization center at Wayne State University's Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics.
"The challenge Wayne State and other universities face is to push more new research out into the commercial world faster to create new jobs and industries," said Randal Charlton, director of WSU's TechTown business incubator.
Committees with representatives from both academia and business chose the grant recipients from among 39 applicants. The money came from the C.S. Mott Foundation, but recipients also have raised a total of $2.2 million from both universities and businesses.
More grants will be awarded this fall using additional money from the Mott foundation, Baker said. But the universities will need to raise more money, primarily from other foundations, for other distributions in 2009 and future years.
Only public universities can apply for the grants, but they can team up with entrepreneurs and others.
Baker said the effort eventually will replace the Michigan Universities Commercialization Initiative, which has invested $6 million in research projects and created 27 new businesses.
Contact KATHERINE YUNG at 313-222-8763 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE NEXT RENAISSANCE
To me, "Personal Democracy" is an oxymoron. Democracy may be a lot of things, but the last thing it should be is "personal." I understand "personal responsibility," such as a family having a recycling bin in which they put their glass and metal every week. But even then, a single recycling bin for a whole building or block would be more efficient and appropriate.
Democracy is not personal, because if it's about anything, it's not about the individual. Democracy is about others. It's about transcending the self and acting collectively. Democracy is people, participating together to make the world a better place.
One of the essays in this conference's proceedings—the book "Rebooting Democracy"— remarks snarkily, "It's the network, stupid." That may go over well with all of us digital folks, but it's not true. It's not the network at all; it's the people. The network is the tool—the new medium that might help us get over the bias of our broadcasting technologies. All those technologies that keep us focused on ourselves as individuals, and away from our reality as a collective.
This focus on the individual, and its false equation with democracy, began back in the Renaissance. The Renaissance brought us wonderful innovations, such as perspective painting, scientific observation, and the printing press. But each of these innovations defined and celebrated individuality. Perspective painting celebrates the perspective of an individual on a scene. Scientific method showed how the real observations of an individual promote rational thought. The printing press gave individuals the opportunity to read, alone, and cogitate. Individuals formed perspectives, made observations, and formed opinions.
The individual we think of today was actually born in the Renaissance. The Vesuvian Man, Da Vinci's great drawing of a man in a perfect square and circle—independent and self-sufficient. This is the Renaissance ideal.
It was the birth of this thinking, individuated person that led to the ethos underlying the Enlightenment. Once we understood ourselves as individuals, we understood ourselves as having rights. The Rights of Man. A right to property. The right to personal freedom.
The Enlightenment—for all its greatness—was still oh, so personal in its conception. The reader alone in his study, contemplating how his vote matters. One man, one vote. We fight revolutions for our individual rights as we understood them. There were mass actions, but these were masses of individuals, fighting for their personal freedoms.
Ironically, with each leap towards individuality there was a corresponding increase in the power of central authorities. Remember, the Renaissance also brought us centralized currencies, chartered corporations, and nation states. As individuals become concerned with their personal plights, their former power as a collective moves to central authorities. Local currencies, investments, and civic institutions dissolve as self-interest increases. The authority associated with them moves to the center and away from all those voting people.
The media of the Renaissance—the printing press—is likewise terrific at myth-making. At branding. Its stories are told to individuals, either through books, or through broadcast media directed at each and every one of us. Its appeals are to self and self-interest.
Consider any commercial for blue jeans. Its target audience is not a confident person who already has a girlfriend. The commercial communicates, "wear these jeans, and you'll get to have sex." Who is the target for that message? An isolated, alienated person who does not have sex. The messaging targets the individual. If it's a mass medium, it targets many many individuals.
Movements, like myths and brands, depend on this quality of top-down, Renaissance-style media. They are not genuinely collective at all, in that there's no promotion of interaction between the people in them. Instead, all the individuals relate to the hero, ideal, or mythology at the top. Movements are abstract—they have to be. They hover above the group, directing all attention towards themselves.
As I listen to people talk here—well-meaning progressives, no doubt—I can't help but hear the romantic, almost desperate desire to become part of a movement. To become part of something famous, like the Obama campaign. Maybe even get a good K-street job out of the connections we make here. It's a fantasy perpetrated by the TV show West Wing. A myth that we want to be part of. But like any myth, it is a fantasy—and one almost entirely prefigured by Renaissance individualism.
The next renaissance (if there is one)—the phenomenon we're talking about or at least around here is not about the individual at all, but about the networked group. The possibility for collective action. The technologies we're using—the biases of these media—cede central authority to decentralized groups. Instead of moving power to the center, they tend to move power to the edges. Instead of creating value from the center—like a centrally issued currency—the network creates value from the periphery.
This means the way to participate is not simply to subscribe to an abstract, already-written myth, but to do real things. To take small actions in real ways. The glory is not in the belief system or the movement, but in the doing. It's not about getting someone elected, it's about removing the obstacles to real people doing what they need to to get the job done. That's the opportunity of the networked, open source era: to drop out of the myths and actually do.
Sadly, we tend to miss the great opportunities offered us by major shifts in media.
The first great renaissance in media, the invention of the alphabet, offered a tremendous leap for participatory democracy. Only priests could read and write hieroglyphs. The invention of the alphabet opened the possibility for people to read or even possibly write, themselves. In Torah myth, Moses goes off with his father-in-law to write the laws by which an enslaved people could now live. Instead of simply accepting legislation and government as a pre-existing condition—the God Pharaoh—people would develop and write down the law as they wanted it. Even the Torah is written in the form of a contract, and God creates the world with a word.
Access to language was to change a world of blind, enslaved rule followers into a civilization of literate people. (This is what is meant when God tells Abraham "you will be a nation of priests." It means they are to be a nation of people who transcend heiro-glyphs or "priestly-writing" to become literate.)
But this isn't what happened. People didn't read Torah—they listened as their leaders read it to them. Hearing was a step up from simply following, but the promise of the new medium had not been seized.
Likewise, the invention of the printing press did not lead to a civilization of writers—it developed a culture of readers. Gentlemen sat reading books, while the printing presses were accessed by those with the money or power to use them. The people remained one step behind the technology. Broadcast radio and television are really just an extension of the printing press: expensive, one-to-many media that promote the mass distribution of the stories and ideas of a small elite.
Computers and networks finally offer us the ability to write. And we do write with them. Everyone is a blogger, now. Citizen bloggers and YouTubers who believe we have now embraced a new "personal" democracy. Personal, because we can sit safely at home with our laptops and type our way to freedom.
But writing is not the capability being offered us by these tools at all. The capability is programming—which almost none of us really know how to do. We simply use the programs that have been made for us, and enter our blog text in the appropriate box on the screen. Nothing against the strides made by citizen bloggers and journalists, but big deal. Let them eat blog.
At the very least on a metaphorical level, the opportunity here is not to write about politics or—more likely—comment on what someone else has said about politics. The opportunity, however, is to rewrite the very rules by which democracy is implemented. The opportunity of a renaissance in programming is to reconfigure the process through which democracy occurs.
If Obama is indeed elected—the first truly Internet-enabled candidate—we should take him at his word. He does not offer himself as the agent of change, but as an advocate of the change that could be enacted by people. It is not for government to create solar power, for example, but to get out of the way of all those people who are ready to implement solar power, themselves. Responding to the willingness of people to act, he can remove regulations developed on behalf of the oil industry to restrict its proliferation.
In an era when people have the ability to reprogram their reality, the job of leaders is to help facilitate this activity by tweaking legislation, or by supporting their efforts through better incentives or access to the necessary tools and capital. Change does not come from the top—but from the periphery. Not from a leader or a myth inspiring individuals to consent to it, but from people working to manifest it together.
Open Source Democracy—which I wrote about a decade ago—is not simply a way to get candidates elected to office. It is a collective reprogramming of the social software, a disengagement from the myths through which we abdicate responsibility, and a reclamation of our role as citizens who participate in the creation of the society in which we want to live.
This is not personal democracy at all, but a collective and participatory democracy where we finally accept our roles as the fully literate and engaged adults who can make this happen.
[Postscript: At the conference's closing ceremony Personal Democracy Forum founder Andrew Rasiej announced he would be changing the name of the conference to the Participatory Democracy Forum.]
Saturday, July 12, 2008
High Cost of Driving Ignites Online Classes Boom
NEWTOWN, Pa. — First, Ryan Gibbons bought a Hyundai so he would not have to drive his gas-guzzling Chevy Blazer to college classes here. When fuel prices kept rising, he cut expenses again, eliminating two campus visits a week by enrolling in an online version of one of his courses.
Like Mr. Gibbons, thousands of students nationwide, including many who were previously reluctant to study online, have suddenly decided to take one or more college classes over the Internet.
“Gas prices have pushed people over the edge,” said Georglyn Davidson, director of online learning at Bucks County Community College, where Mr. Gibbons studies, and where online enrollments are up 35 percent this summer over last year.
The vast majority of the nation’s 15 million college students — at least 79 percent — live off campus, and with gas prices above $4 a gallon, many are seeking to cut commuting costs by studying online. Colleges from Massachusetts and Florida to Texas to Oregon have reported significant online enrollment increases for summer sessions, with student numbers in some cases 50 percent or 100 percent higher than last year. Although some four-year institutions with large online programs — like the University of Massachusetts and Villanova — have experienced these increases, the greatest surges have been registered at two-year community colleges, where most students are commuters, many support families and few can absorb large new expenditures for fuel.
At Bristol Community College in Fall River, Mass., for instance, online enrollments were up 114 percent this summer over last, and half the students queried cited gas costs or some other transportation obstacle as a reason for signing up to study over the Internet, said April Bellafiore, an assistant dean there.
“Online classes filled up immediately,” Ms. Bellafiore said. “It blew my mind.”
Enrollments in online classes expanded rapidly early in this decade, but growth slowed in 2006 to less than 10 percent, according to statistics compiled last year by researchers at Babson College in Massachusetts. Some recent increases reported by college officials in interviews were much larger, which they attributed to the rising cost of gasoline. Pricing policies for online courses vary by campus, but most classes cost as much as, or more than, traditional ones.
At Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Fla., online enrollment rose to 2,726 this summer from 2,190 last year, a 24.5 percent increase. “That is a dramatic increase we can only attribute to gas prices,” said Jim Drake, Brevard’s president.
Dr. Drake and officials at several other colleges expressed concern that mounting fuel costs could force some students to drop out of college altogether, especially since only a fraction of courses at most colleges are offered online. Dr. Drake has put Brevard on a four-day week to help employees and students save gas.
David Gray, chief executive of UMass Online, the distance education program at the University of Massachusetts, said that at an educators’ conference this week in San Francisco, officials from scores of universities discussed how the energy crisis could affect higher education. “There was broad agreement that gas price increases will be a source of continued growth in online enrollments,” Mr. Gray said.
Once an incidental expense, fuel for commuting to campus now costs some students half of what they pay for tuition, in some cases more. Sergey Sosnovsky, who is pursuing pre-engineering studies at Bucks County Community College, paid $240 a month for gas during the spring semester, while his full-time tuition cost about $500 a month, he said. Other students here and in half a dozen other states told similar stories.
Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo., which enrolls residents on both sides of the Arkansas-Missouri border, had 52 percent more students sign up for Internet-based courses this summer than last, said Witt Salley, the college’s director of online teaching and learning.
One student taking online coursework for the first time is Kameron Miller, a 30-year-old working mother who lives in Buffalo, Mo., 40 miles north of Springfield. Her commute to classes in her 1998 Chevy Venture during the spring semester cost her at least $200 a month for gas, Ms. Miller said. This summer, she is taking courses in health, humanities and world music — all online.
“I don’t feel I get as much out of an online class as a campus course,” Ms. Miller said. “But I couldn’t afford any other decision.”
Among the four-year institutions reporting increased online enrollment, UMass Online, which enrolls students at its five Massachusetts campuses and worldwide, experienced 46 percent growth this summer over last among students at the university’s Dartmouth, Mass., campus. At Villanova University in Pennsylvania, enrollment in online, graduate, engineering, nursing and business courses has increased more than 40 percent this summer, said Robert Stokes, an assistant vice president there.
Waiting lists for Web-based courses have lengthened at some institutions. At the University of Colorado, Denver, for instance, 361 students are on the waiting list for online courses for the fall term, compared to 233 last year on the same date, said Bob Tolsma, an assistant vice chancellor.
In Tennessee, the six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 26 technology centers overseen by the Tennessee Board of Regents enrolled 9,000 students for online courses this summer, compared with about 7,000 last summer, a 29 percent increase, said Robbie K. Melton, an associate vice chancellor.
“We had to train more faculty and provide more online courses because students just couldn’t afford to drive to our campuses,” Dr. Melton said.
Sandra Jobe, a 46-year-old bookkeeper who is studying for a master’s degree in education at Tennessee State University, said she reduced the number of trips she had to make each week to the university’s Nashville campus to two from four by enrolling in an online course.
“The campus experience is good; I wouldn’t diminish that,” Ms. Jobe said. “But when you’re penny-pinching, online is a good alternative.”
South Texas College, which has five campuses in Hidalgo and Starr Counties in the Rio Grande Valley, saw a 35 percent increase in online enrollments this summer over last, said William Serrata, a vice president. Other years have seen summer increases of 10 percent to 15 percent, he said. “This really speaks to students’ not wanting to travel due to the gas prices,” Mr. Serrata said.
Elvira Ozuna, who is 37 and studying for an associate’s degree in occupational therapy, was driving four times a week, 50 miles round trip from her home to South Texas College’s campus in McAllen. But this summer she enrolled in two online courses, eliminating that commute.
Ms. Ozuna said she found online work more difficult than classroom study. “But I saved on the gasoline,” she said.
Distance education is no silver bullet that can alone solve the challenges posed for higher education by rising gasoline prices, officials warned.
For one thing, many students, especially in rural areas, lack the high-speed Internet connections on which online courses depend.
“The infrastructure doesn’t exist to give all rural students clear online access,” said Stephen G. Katsinas, a professor at the University of Alabama. “Rural America is where the digital divide is most dramatic.”
Furthermore, most colleges still offer only a fraction of their courses over the Internet. Bucks County Community College, for instance, will offer 414 credit courses during the fall term. Only 103 of those will be offered online, and another 48 as hybrid courses, that is, partly online but with some campus visits required. So most students will still need to come to campus.
Mr. Gibbons, who is 20, works days and aspires to be a writer. He said his online course, “Introduction to the Novel,” had been a good experience, especially the Web-based discussions of Jane Austen’s novels. (He likes posting comments by e-mail better than speaking in class.) He said he still preferred on-campus study, “but with the price of gas jumping up, I’ll probably be taking more courses online now.”