Liquid Web appoints former GoDaddy exec to board

LANSING — Liquid Web LLC, a $100-million managed hosting provider, announced the appointment of Jeff King to the company’s board of directors. King brings more than 25 years of technology leadership experience to his seat on the board.

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Battery Seminar Coming To Ann Arbor

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The San Diego battery industry consultant PlugVolt LLC will hold its 2017 Battery Seminar July 18-20 at the Hilton Garden Inn Ann Arbor, 1401 Briarwood Circle.

The event will feature experts from automotive and grid power storage manufacturers, industry suppliers, and battery manufacturers.

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AT&T Upgrades Network In Southeast Michigan

DETROIT — AT&T Inc. says it has upgraded its wireless network within southeast Michigan.

The improvements include adding greater capacity or bandwidth and speeds to cell towers within Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Lapeer and Washtenaw counties.

The bandwidth upgrades were made in the following communities within these counties:

* Lapeer County: Lapeer

* Macomb County: Eastpointe, Fraser, Mt. Clemens, Warren (three sites)

* Oakland County: Berkley, Birmingham, Farmington Hills (two sites), Highland Township (two sites), Madison Heights, Novi, Rochester, Southfield (two sites) and Troy

* Washtenaw County: Ypsilanti

* Wayne County: Livonia, Plymouth, Detroit (two sites), Dearborn Heights (three sites)

Earlier this year AT&T also announced a nearly 100-site bandwidth expansion within southeast Michigan. And in May the company announced a 60-site upgrade.

“Our Michigan employees are focused on bringing a better mobile experience to southeast Michigan and across the state,” AT&T Michigan President Jim Murray said. “Our investment in the local wireless network is one way we’re accomplishing that. We’re seeing increased data usage across our mobile network, especially at big events. In fact, data on our mobile network has increased about 250,000 percent since 2007, and the majority of that traffic is video.”

For more information, visit http://about.att.com.

Herman Miller Rolls Out Connected Office Furniture

HOLLAND — The furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc. (NASDAQ: MLHR) has rolled out Live OS, a new line of cloud-connected office furnishings.

Live OS includes an app and dashboard to offer data-based insights to help understand employees’ ever-changing needs in the workplace. With the launch of Live OS, Herman Miller extends its traditional product offering to include this subscription-based service.

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Quicken Named No. 1 Place To Work In IT For 5th Straight Year

DETROIT — For the fifth straight year, Detroit-based Quicken Loans has earned the No. 1 ranking on Computerworld magazine’s “Best Places to Work in IT” list.

This year’s award represents the eighth time the company has earned the No. 1 spot, and the 13th consecutive year it has appeared on Computerworld’s list.

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Secure-24 220th On CRN’s Solution Provider 500

SOUTHFIELD — Secure-24, the Southfield provider of managed cloud services, IT operations and applications hosting, has been ranked No. 220 on the 2017 Solution Provider 500 published by CRN, formerly known as Computer Reseller News.

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M2 TechCast Features Auto Tech, Life Sciences, Comcast for Business, Renewable Energy

ROYAL OAK — The Monday, June 12 edition of the M2 TechCast features four terrific guests on a wide variety of the latest technological trends.

Automotive expert David Cole, chairman of AutoHarvest, kicks off the show at 3 p.m. Eastern time, updating listeners on the latest automotive technology trends.

At 3:15, Tember Shea of Inforum will interview Alexa Jones, CEO of TheraB Medical, an East Lansing startup working to launch its first product, SnugLit, a wearable, portable treatment for infant jaundice.

At 3:30 p.m., Comcast Vice President of Business Services Jeff Marston will introduce himself to Michigan, and talk about some of Comcast’s business products.

Wrapping up the show at 3:45 will be John Freeman, executive director of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. He’ll provide an update on the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Conference, coming up June 23-25 in Traverse City.

The M2 TechCast airs live on the internet from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time each Monday at http://www.podcastdetroit.com. And you can listen to past episodes by clicking on http://www.podcastdetroit.com/artist/mi-tech-cast/.

The M2 TechCast is hosted by Mike Brennan, founder and publisher of Michigan Technology News, http://www.mitechnews.com, and Matt Roush, director of the university news bureau at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. Both have covered high-tech in Michigan as journalists for more than 20 years.

The M2 TechCast is part of Podcast Detroit, a network of more than 50 locally produced podcasts on a wide variety of topics, anchored by IT in the D. the nation’s No. 1 tech podcast, which regularly draws more than 500,000 listeners a week. IT in the D airs live Monday nights from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Nexteer, MSU To Offer Master’s of Electrical Engineering in Midland

SAGINAW – Nexteer Automotive, the Chinese-owned auto supplier, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Michigan State University to offer a master of science degree in electrical engineering program in Midland, beginning in September. The partnership is aimed at increasing the availability of advanced graduate-level engineering education in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

“In support of our local communities, we seek qualified talent in close proximity to our global locations,” said Robin Milavec, senior executive director of current product engineering at Nexteer. “There’s a continuing need in the Great Lakes Bay Region, including at our Global Technical Center in Saginaw, for individuals fluent in advanced electrical engineering. We believe the availability of a local graduate program backed by MSU will be a great draw for the region.”

The electrical engineering program is open to all qualified applicants and will focus on building graduate students’ competencies in the growing field of automotive electronics, particularly in the areas of vehicle safety, advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving technologies. The program and its curriculum were developed in conjunction with MSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering within the College of Engineering.

With two degree tracks available, the plan replicates MSU’s standard electrical and computer engineering M.S. program requiring 30 credit hours for completion. MSU will offer five graduate courses per year to meet these requirements. As a partner, Nexteer will provide program content recommendations and encourage eligible employees to take part in the educational program.

“We are pleased to partner with Nexteer Automotive in expanding higher education in the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Leo Kempel, dean of the College of Engineering, Michigan State University. “The company’s commitment to the region has aided us in crafting a program that will further STEM education and meet the area’s intellectual needs. It also affords the opportunity for joint research and innovation as part of the economic development of the region.”

The program, which will be based at an MSU academic center in Midland, will commence with the fall 2017 semester. For more information about the program, including curriculum, application, admission requirements and tuition, visit the MSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering website at ece.msu.edu/midlandms.

Nexteer has a global work force of more than 13,000 that serves more than 50 customers in every region of the world. The company has 25 manufacturing plants, five regional engineering centers and 11 customer service centers in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Nexteer Automotive’s customers include BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, PSA Group, Toyota and Volkswagen, as well as automakers in India and China. More at www.nexteer.com.

The Michigan State University College of Engineering has nine academic programs serving 6,400 students, including more than 5,600 undergraduates and 700 graduate students. The college’s research focus is on innovation in automotive, composite materials, energy, health care technologies, pavement preservation, and security. The college is the home of two new academic departments — the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering and a partner in MSU’s new Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering. A new $60 million Bio Engineering Facility opened in 2016 for interdisciplinary basic and applied research at the interface of life and physical sciences, engineering, information science, and math. More at www.egr.msu.edu.

LTU wins grant to boost STEM education from Howard Hughes Medical Institute

SOUTHFIELD – Lawrence Technological University is one of 24 schools nationwide to be selected for a new program to boost minority participation in STEM study and careers.

The $1 million grant was awarded to Lawrence Tech under the Inclusive Excellence Initiative of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the largest private, nonprofit supporter of science education in the United States. More than 500 colleges and universities nationwide applied for grants under the initiative. Lawrence Tech was the only institution in Michigan to be selected.

The objective of the initiative is to help colleges and universities encourage participation and cultivate the talent of more students in the natural sciences. HHMI challenged schools to identify the reasons students are excluded from science and find new ways to include students in opportunities to achieve science excellence. In particular, the HHMI initiative focuses on those undergraduates who come to college from diverse backgrounds and pathways. These “new majority” students include under-represented ethnic minorities, first-generation college students, and working adults with families.

Said HHMI President Erin O’Shea: “The challenges this program addresses are important for all of us who care deeply about developing a more inclusive and diverse scientific community.”

Finding a way to include all students, from all backgrounds, in STEM is critical for building future generations of American scientists, said David Asai, senior director for science education at HHMI. “Science excellence depends on having a community of scientists that is rich in diversity of people and perspectives,” Asai said.

A third of U.S. first-year college students intending to study STEM are underrepresented minorities (green). But only one-sixth of STEM baccalaureate degree recipients (turquoise) and one-tenth of STEM PhDs (blue) are underrepresented minorities. (Graphic by Howard Hughes Medical Institute.)

In Lawrence Tech’s case, the goal of the project is to “revolutionize teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences, transforming it into a college that bases its education on classroom-based research experience,” or CRE, said Lior Shamir, associate professor of mathematics and computer science.

Shamir said courses in multiple disciplines, covering all departments and programs in the college, will be modified into CRE courses, providing research experiences to all students as part of the curriculum. And, Shamir said, these experiences “will be designed in a culturally responsive fashion, allowing students to express their culture and identity through research.”

Shamir said participating in research as an undergraduate student has been proven to increase student retention and graduation rates, as well as boosting GPA and the likelihood of moving on to graduate school.

For decades, educational grants – including some awarded by HHMI – have focused on interventions aimed at students, such as summer research apprenticeships, tutoring, advising, and summer bridge programs designed to ease the transition from high school to college. While these interventions can help the students involved, they don’t generally address long-term issues that, if changed, could have a more sustained impact, Asai said. “Our goal is to catalyze changes that last well beyond the lifetime of these five-year grants,” he said.

An essay by Asai on the topic, “A New Strategy to Build Capacity for Creativity,” is available at https://www.hhmi.org/content/new-strategy-build-capacity-creativity-science-education.

“This award shows once again how Lawrence Tech is truly living its longtime motto of ‘Theory and Practice,’” LTU President Virinder Moudgil said. “Adding research experiences to all classes in the College of Arts and Sciences that are relevant to each student’s cultural background will increase the likelihood of student success, and will increase participation and excellence among people who are now under-represented in science.”

Lawrence Technological University, http://www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, http://www.hhmi.org, plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, include 17 Nobel laureates. They have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research.

Michigan Tech Study Shows Ditching Coal for Solar Saves Lives — AND Money

HOUGHTON — In a new study published in the academic journal Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews (DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2017.05.119), a team from Michigan Technological University calculated the cost of combusting coal in terms of human lives along with the potential benefits of switching to solar.

Health Impacts

Tens of thousands of Americans die prematurely each year from air pollution-related diseases associated with burning coal. By transitioning to solar photovoltaics in the United States, the study found up to 51,999 American lives would be saved at $1.1 million invested per life.

“Unlike other public health investments, you get more than lives saved,” said Joshua Pearce, a professor of materials science and electrical engineering at Michigan Tech. “In addition to saving lives, solar is producing electricity, which has economic value.”

Using a sensitivity analysis on the value of electricity, which examines the different costs of electricity that varies by region throughout the country, saving a life by using solar power also showed potential to make money — sometimes as much as several million dollars per life, says Pearce.

“Everybody wants to avoid wasting money. Just based off the pure value of electricity of the sensitivities we looked at, it’s profitable to save American lives by eliminating coal with solar,” he explains.

Pearce worked with energy policy doctoral student Emily Prehoda on the study, and their main goal was to better inform health policy. They gathered data from peer-reviewed journals and the Environmental Protection Agency to calculate U.S. deaths per kilowatt hour per year for both coal and solar. Then they used current costs of solar installations from the Department of Energy and calculated the potential return on investment.

Pearce and Prehoda also analyzed the geographic impact of coal-related deaths. “Here, we have solid numbers on how many people die from air pollution and what fraction of that is due to coal-powered plants in each state.”

Power of Solar

To fully replace all the coal production in the U.S. with solar PV, it would take 755 gigawatts — a significant increase compared to the 22.7 gigawatts of solar installed in the U.S. currently. The total cost of installing that much solar power totals $1.5 trillion, but that investment is figured into Pearce and Prehoda’s calculations, and is a profitable investment.

Said Pearce: “Solar has come down radically in cost, it’s technically viable, and coupled with natural gas plants, other renewables and storage, we have ways to produce all the electricity we need without coal, period.”

He says resisting the rise of solar energy is akin to if computer manufacturers kept using vacuum tube switches instead of upgrading to semiconductor transistors.

“My overall take away from this study is that if we’re rational and we care about American lives, or even just money, then it’s time to end coal in the U.S.,” Pearce said.

Next Steps

The World Health Organization reports that millions die each year from unhealthy environment, air pollution notably the largest contributor to non-communicable diseases like stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory illnesses and heart disease. Future work can expand this study globally.

“There’s roughly seven million people who die globally from air pollution every year, so getting rid of coal could take a big chunk out of that number as well,” Pearce said, adding that another goal of future research is to dig deeper into the life cycles of coal production as this study only looked at air pollution related deaths. Doing so will continue to illuminate the multiple positive impacts of solar power and its potential to do more than keep the lights on.

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