Science & Technology
Quad City Engineering and Science Council Award Nominations Due By January 31, 2014 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Christine Cournoyer   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:14

The Quad City Science and Engineering Council is Accepting Nominations for 2014 Awards through January 31, 2014. The 6 award categories are: Junior Engineer (less than 36 years old), Senior Engineer (36 years old or greater), Junior Scientist (less than 36 years old), Senior Scientist (36 years old or greater), Lifetime Achievement Award and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Teacher of the Year. Any technical society, business, organization, or individual may submit as many nominations as they wish. The awards will be announced at the 52nd Annual National Engineers Week Banquet tentatively scheduled for February 20, 2014.  The nomination form and more information can be found on our website:www.qcesc.org

Scholarship Applications Available for High School Seniors interested in STEM Degree Due January 17, 2014

The Quad-City Engineering and Science Council, or QCESC, has released its 2014 scholarship application at www.qcesc.org.  Applications must be mailed by January 17, 2014. The scholarships will be awarded at its 52nd annual National Engineers Week banquet on February 20th. Last year 11 scholarships were awarded worth $18,000.

These scholarships are awarded based on academics, extracurricular activities (which include work and community service), and leadership experience. An essay on career goals and why the applicant is interested in a STEM-related field is also required.

High school seniors from Henry, Mercer, Rock Island, and Whiteside counties in Illinois; and Clinton Louisa, Muscatine, and Scott counties in Iowa are eligible to apply. For more information and to download the form, please visit www.qcesc.org

 
VOTEVETS LAUNCHES POWERFUL TELEVISION AD CAMPAIGN SUPPORTING RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jeremy Funk   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 13:56

Ad featuring Iraq War Veteran to Run in Iowa, DC

Des Moines, IA – The largest progressive group of veterans in America, with over 360,000 supporters, VoteVets.org, is today launching a powerful new television ad in Iowa, aimed at protecting the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The ad buy is nearly $110,000 for one week of time in the Des Moines market as well as in Washington, D.C., where it will be seen by decision makers on the issue.  The group promised more ads will be coming in the next few weeks.

Today’s ad features an Iraq War Veteran, Michael Connolly, making the case that gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard would allow for a greater flow of oil dollars to our enemies, who use that money for weaponry that has targeted our troops.  Connolly, who served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, lived in Glenwood, Iowa from 2010 to 2012, and now lives just across the border, in Nebraska.

The ad opens with a massive explosion in front of a military convoy. Connolly says, “War is dangerous. I know. I was there.  Now, people ask me all the time how they can support the troops.” Holding a yellow ribbon, Connolly says, “By putting one of these on your car?  Sure…” And then in front of an ethanol gas pump, “By putting this in your tank?  Even better… More renewable fuels, like the kind grown here in Iowa, means we use less foreign oil. And that means less money for our enemies.  But the oil companies are trying to kill renewable fuels.”

The full script is below.  The ad can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cqc2-D51Iw.

The facts back up Connolly’s words.  Although the United States often does not directly buy oil from hostile nations, like Iran, America’s dependence on oil drives up demand, and prices of oil on the world market, which benefits all oil-rich nations.  Those oil dollars allowed Iran, for instance, to produce and ship Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi insurgents, who used them to target our troops.1

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates for every one billion gallons of ethanol produced, 10,000 to 20,000 jobs are added to our domestic economy.2 According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the ethanol Industry supports around 55,000 jobs in Iowa, and accounts for $5.4 billion of Iowa’s GDP.3 Gutting the RFS would threaten the development of next generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol plants in Iowa scheduled to start operation next year.  Rather than using kernels of corn, these advanced plants will make the fuel from the “biomass” of various low-value plant material including corn stalks and wood chips.

VoteVets.org is one of the groups leading the way in calling for the EPA to protect the RFS, and is urging its members and supporters to, as well.  Along with a coalition of groups, VoteVets.org is collecting petition signatures from everyday Americans who want to see us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect our troops, and create jobs.

Founded in 2006,  and backed by over 360,000 supporters, the mission of VoteVets.org is to use public issue campaigns and direct outreach to lawmakers to ensure that troops abroad have what they need to complete their missions, and receive the care they deserve when they get home. VoteVets.org also recognizes veterans as a vital part of the fabric of our country and will work to protect veterans' interests in their day-to-day lives. VoteVets.org is committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world - with force when necessary - to protect America.  While non-partisan, the group is the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.


Sources:

1 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/

2 http://www.growthenergy.org/

3 http://www.iowacorn.org/en/

 

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Midland Communications Helps Customers Make the Move to Cloud-Based Services PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by AJ Odish   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 08:35
Leading Unified Communications Provider Offer Solutions to Enhance Customer Profitability

DAVENPORT, IA - December 31st, 2013 - Midland Communications, a leading provider of unified communications, announced a new program today that enables businesses to migrate from hardware-based technology to cloud-based services. This transition has been accelerated largely due to the maturity of cloud-based services, and their ability to deliver a dramatic competitive advantage across several industries. The impetus for Midland Communications' initiative lies in advancements that have made this technology cost-effective for the majority of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Midland Communications' cloud-based services enhance their customers' mobility, security and strategic IT capabilities.
The primary reasons that many SMBs look into cloud-based services are for the inherent benefits of mobility, freedom and workforce flexibility. Midland Communications has been able to eliminate the notion of being "chained" to on premise equipment such as servers or traditional desktops. The average employee is in-and-out of the office and can hardly afford to spend time making additional trips to the office to retrieve files, access certain programs and collaborate with team members. According to Global Workplace Analytics, "Regular telecommuting grew by 79.7% between 2005 and 2012...".  It's no secret that the days of the 9 to 5 business are long gone and the increase in the resulting mobile workforce has created a need for employees to stay connected with company data while having the freedom to be away from the office. Virtual workspaces now allows for complete collaboration across various departments regardless of location or hardware.
Further flexibility can be found in the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) environment. Employees can access company data across multiple devices, operating systems and much more. For example, salespeople can create sales presentations at the office, drive out to an appointment, and make last minute revisions on their iPad while accessing all of the programs, tools and files that are hosted in the cloud. Businesses that can operate on-the-fly have a huge advantage over their competitors.  This is why so many organizations are moving towards this type of technology.
Additionally, cloud-based services have enhanced security features as well. SMBs should make certain that providers deliver enterprise-grade services such as virus, malware, spyware and rogue employee protection. Customers should also expect 24x7x365 network monitoring and system support so they can always be confident that their data is safe and accessible. Midland Communications offers solutions with security measures in place that are on par with military-grade data encryption and have built-in redundancy across the network.
Lastly, the growth in cloud-based services has enabled providers like Midland Communications to take over the day-to-day management of technology so the customer can concentrate on growing their business. Most business owners have recognized the benefits associated with getting their staff "working ON the business" rather than "working IN it."
"Many cloud-services have evolved from being a cheap, low-cost alternative to becoming more secure than the majority of on-premise solutions," stated Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications. "There are significant advantages of moving from on-premise equipment to the cloud and it is our role to educate our customers as well as make it an easy transition."

ABOUT MIDLAND COMMUNICATIONS

Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit www.midlandcom.com.

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What A Year: 45 Fossil Fuel Disasters The Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know About PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jeremy Funk   
Thursday, 19 December 2013 14:06

BY EMILY ATKIN ON DECEMBER 17, 2013 AT 1:26 PM

While coal, oil, and gas are an integral part of everyday life around the world, 2013 brought a stark reminder of the inherent risk that comes with a fossil-fuel dependent world, with numerous pipeline spills, explosions, derailments, landslides, and the death of 20 coal miners in the U.S. alone.

Despite all this, our addiction to fossil fuels will be a tough habit to break. The federal Energy Information Administration in July projected that fossil fuel use will soar across the world in the come decades. Coal — the dirtiest fossil fuel in terms of carbon emissions — is projected to increase by 2.3 percent in coming years. And in December, the EIA said that global demand for oil would be even higher than it had projected, for both this year and next.

Here is a look back at some of the fossil fuel disasters that made headlines in 2013, along with several others that went largely unnoticed.

Pipelines

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/THE NATION-ATCHARA

March 29: An ExxonMobil pipeline carrying Canadian Wabasca heavy crude from the Athabasca oil sands ruptures and spills thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower, Arkansas. The ruptured pipeline gushed 210,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude into a residential street and forced the evacuation of 22 homes. Exxon was hit with a paltry $2.6 million fine by federal pipeline safety regulators for the incident in November — just 1/3000th of its third quarter profits.

May 20: Underground tar sands leaks start popping up in Alberta, Canada, anddo not stop for at least five months. In September the company responsible was ordered to drain a lake so that contamination on the lake’s bottom can be cleaned up. As of September 11, the leaks had spilled more than 403,900 gallons — or about 9,617 barrels — of oily bitumen into the surrounding boreal forest and muskeg, the acidic, marshy soil found in the forest.

July 30: About 50 tons of oil spills into the sea off Rayong province of Thailand from a leak in the pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical Plc. It was the fourth major oil spill in the country’s history.

August 13: An ethane and propane pipeline belonging to Tesoro Corp. running beneath an Illinois cornfield ruptures and explodes. Residents heard a massive blast and then saw flames shooting 300 feet into the air, visible for 20 miles.

September 29: A North Dakota farmer winds up discovering the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history, the size of seven football fields. At least 20,600 barrels of oil leaked from a Tesoro Corp-owned pipeline onto the Jensens’ land, and it went unreported to North Dakotans for more than a week. An AP investigation later discovered that nearly 300 oil spills and 750 “oil field incidents” had gone unreported to the public since January 2012.

October 7: An Oil and Natural Gas Corp. pipeline that carries crude from the offshore Mumbai High fields to India ruptures and spills at an onshore facility, but oil winds up flowing into the Arabian sea because of rainfall.

October 9: A natural gas pipeline explodes in northwest Oklahoma, sparking a large fire and prompting evacuations. No injuries or deaths were reported.

October 30: 17,000 gallons of crude oil spill from an eight-inch pipeline owned by Koch Pipeline Company in Texas. The spill impacted a rural area and two livestock ponds near Smithville and was discovered on a routine aerial inspection.

November 14: A Chevron natural gas pipeline explodes in Milford, Texas,causing the town of 700 people to evacuate. The flames could reportedly be seen for miles.

November 22: An oil pipeline explodes in Qingdao, China, killing 62 and setting ocean on fire. The underground pipeline’s explosion opened a hole in the road that swallowed at least one truck, according to Reuters, and oil seeped into utility pipes under Qingdao.

November 29: A 30-inch gas gas pipeline in a rural area of western Missouri ruptures and explodes, sending a 300 foot high fireball into the air.

Coal Mines

February 11 An explosion in a coal mine in northern Russia kills at least 17 miners in a shaft saturated with methane gas. Rescue workers said 23 people had been in the shaft at the time. The blast occurred about 2,500 feet underground.

February 13: Very large landslide hits a colliery in Northern England. No injuries, but Dave Petley, a geology professor at Durham University, said it “may well be the largest and most significant landslide in the UK for a decade or more.”

February 13: A 28-year-old mining machine operator was killed when he was pinned between the tail of the remote controlled continuous mining machine and the coal rib in an underground mine in Illinois. Timothy Chamness had only been a mine machine operator for 6 months when the incident occurred.

February 14: A landslide hits the Phillippines’ largest open coal mining pit, burying at least 13 workers and killing at least 7. The accident was the third to occur in mining sites in the country over the last six months.

February 19: A large rock cliff collapses on top of a coal mine in southern China, burying and killing five people, including two children. An estimated 5,000 cubic metres of rock fell on Yudong village in Kaili, in the country’s Guizhou province.

March 13: A 63-year-old man with 40 years of mining experience was killed underground when he was struck by a large piece of roof rock. The rock that fell was approximately 6 feet long by 5.5 feet wide and about 5 inches thick.

March 29 and April 1: The Babao Coal mine explosions kill 53 people in China. The coal mine company responsible, Tonghua Mining (Group) Co. Ltd., was later found to have concealed the death toll in the incidents, additionally concealing deaths of six workers in five accidents in 2012.

May 11: Illegal mining causes an explosion in a Chinese coal mine that killed 28 and left 18 injured. China orders production suspension at all coal mines in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China’s 16th-biggest coal producing province, after the blast.

July 16: A landslide at a coal mine in Bulgaria claims the lives of two people who were discovered underneath 50 meters of land mass. It was the fourth major landslide in the Oranovo mine in the past eight years.

August 10: Seven people in India are killed after a landslide in a coal mine in the Sundergarh district of Odisha. The incident occurred while people from nearby villages were collecting coal from the “over-burdened” dump yard located near the mining area.

November 23: While working inside a coal mine in Ohio, a 32-year-old man was killed when he was struck by high pressure hydraulic fluid after a valve broke. Ryan Lashley had worked at The Century Mine, which was the site of another near-fatal accident that month.

November 27: A coal mine in northern China’s Shanxi Province is hit with a landslide that buried several excavators and kills two people.

December 4: Gas explodes in a coal mine early in eastern China’s Jiangxi province, killing at least six workers.

Offshore and Onshore Rigs

January 22: A Devon Energy natural gas rig in Utah catches fire, causing evacuations for half a mile radius of the rig. No injuries are reported.

July 7:hydraulic fracturing operation at a gas well drilling pad in West Virginia explodes and injures seven people, four with potentially life-threatening burns. The explosion occurred while workers were pumping water down a well, part of the hydraulic fracturing process for recovering gas trapped in shale rock. The tanks that recover the water and chemical mixture after they return to the surface are what reportedly exploded.

July 27: BP’s Hercules 265 offshore gas rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana explodes, enveloping the rig in a cloud of gas and a thin sheen of gas in the water. After spewing gas for more than a day, the rig finally “bridged over,” meaning small pieces of sediment and sand blocked more gas from escaping.

August 20: A gas rig belonging to the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan exploded in the Caspian sea while workers were carrying out exploratory drilling, when it hit a pocket of gas at unexpectedly high pressure.

August 28: A “well-control incident” at an oil drilling rig in rural south Texas causes an “intense” explosion after workers were drilling horizontally into the Eagle Ford Shale, causing homes to be evacuated. No injuries reported.

Train Derailments

March 27: A Canadian Pacific Railway train derails, spilling 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in western Minnesota. Reuters called it “the first major spill of the modern North American crude-by-rail transit boom.”

July 6: A unit, 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil derails in Lac-Megantic, Canada, causing an incredibly tragic fire and explosion. Forty-two people were pronounced dead, 30 buildings downtown destroyed. Emergency responders describe a “war zone.” 2,000 people evacuated because of toxic fumes, explosions, and fires.

July 18: 24 cars of a 150-car coal train derail in Virginia, spilling more than a thousand tons of coal along the roadside.

October 19: A train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derails west of Alberta, Canada, causing an explosion and fire. No injuries were reported. Nine of the derailed cars were carrying liquefied petroleum gas and four carried crude. The crude oil cars were intact and kept away from the fires with no indications of any leaks.

November 8: A 90-car train carrying North Dakota crude derails and explodes in a rural area of western Alabama. Flames spewed into the air on a Friday, only finally dying down by Sunday, in what the Huffington Post called “the most dramatic U.S. accident since the oil-by-rail boom began.”

December 9: 19 cars of a coal train near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway derail, spilling coal onto the ground. The train had four locomotives with 103 cars, each carrying about 75 tons of coal. The train was headed from a mine in Carbon County, Utah, to a utility company in Mojave, California.

Power Plants and Refineries

April 4: Federal safety officials eventually make Georgia Power pay $119,000 in penalties after an explosion at one of its coal plants. The blast injured two people and was caused by a buildup of hydrogen and air inside a generator.

April 5: Residents near an ExxonMobil refinery begin to smell “burning tires and oil” after the refinery leaked condensate water that accumulated while the company was flaring gas. Through the leak, ExxonMobil announced that it had released 100 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and 10 pounds of benzene. According to readings at the spill site, the refinery measured 160 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide and 2 parts per million of benzene in the air.

August 8 and 15: 15,000 liters of oil spills into local streams in Cuba, after two separate instances at the Sergio Soto Refinery. The oil spill was the result of a negligent operator who failed to properly secure the residuals trap used to contain the hydrocarbon. While some of the oil was able to be contained, much of it was pushed upstream because of strong rainfall following the spill.

August 28: Approximately 20 gallons of partially refined petroleum from a New Jersey refinery spills into the Delaware River, after a leak in a heat exchanger that is part of the refinery’s crude oil processing unit. The spill was reported two hours after workers discovered it, when they realized it was going into the river.

September 10: An explosion at the Deely 1 coal power unit in Pennsylvania caused cascade housing damage. The explosion happened after coal dust in a silo caught fire.

Miscellaneous

January 27: A barge carrying 668,000 gallons of light crude oil on the Mississippi River crashed into a railroad bridge. An 80,000 gallon tank on the vessel was damaged, spilling oil into the waterway, which prompted officials to close the river for eight miles in either direction.

September 15: Fuel tanks explode at Virgin Islands gas station, resulting in a huge blast and a fire and causing two injuries. The St. Thomas community of Bovoni was evacuated and traffic was diverted after the explosion.

October 1: An underground fuel reservoir explodes on a Czech Lukoil petrol station on a highway in Prague, killing one person and injuring two.

November 23: Five are hurt after a gas tank near a drilling rig explodes in Wyoming.

December 14: Thousands of gallons of gasoline spill into a harbor in southern Alaska on Saturday after a pump used to funnel fuel into boats is accidentally severed. The 5,500 gallon spill occurred in the small village of the village of Kake, whose residents rely on fish and subsistence to get by.

UPDATE

The original list incorrectly listed a pipeline explosion in New Mexico as occurring on August 20, 2013. It occurred in 2006.

 
Loebsack Statement at Siemens and MidAmerican Wind Energy Announcement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:57

Ft. Madison, IA – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today at the event to commemorate the largest wind expansion in Iowa’s history by Siemens and MidAmerican Energy. The event highlighted the impact of the job creation from the expansion project and economic benefits wind energy brings to local communities around the country. Congressman Loebsack was joined by Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, MidAmerican Energy CEO Bill Fehrman and Siemens Energy CEO Mark Albanze.

“I am thrilled with today’s announcement by Siemens and MidAmerican that Iowa will expand its leadership in wind energy production. This announcement means jobs for our highly skilled workforce, and demonstrates the continued strengthening and competitiveness of Iowa manufacturing. It also means continuing investment in Iowa’s clean energy infrastructure. This is what encouraging our homegrown energy and the Production Tax Credit are all about – jobs and clean, renewable energy sources.”

While at the event, Congressman Loebsack also reiterated his call for Congress to renew the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy that is set to expire at the end of the year. Loebsack has long supported wind energy production and led the way in the House to renew the PTC. Last year he was named a USA Wind Champion by the American Wind Energy Association.

“It's utterly unacceptable that the House packed up and left town for the holidays without extending the PTC, which is why I pushed to keep Congress in session and working. I will continue to fight to get the PTC extended as soon as possible. Despite the complete dysfunction in Washington, I’m hopeful Congress can come to an agreement. As we witnessed today, here in Iowa, the PTC isn’t a partisan issue.”

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