Nexteer Revenue, Profit Jumps

SAGINAW — Nexteer Automotive Group Ltd., the Chinese-owned manufacturer of electric and hydraulic power steering systems, steering columns, driveline systems and advanced driver assist and autonomous vehicle technologies, reported its first half financial results Tuesday.

The company said profit attributable to equity holders for the six months ended June 30 was $148.9 million or 6 cents a share, up from $96.5 million or 4 cents a share for the first six months of 2015. Revenue for the period was $1.92 billion, up from $1.64 billion in the same period a year earlier.

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Women Get First Hand Look At Auto Industry

HOUGHTON — When Jennifer Shute and Jody Hand took leadership roles in Michigan Technological University’s inaugural Women in Automotive Engineering (WIAE) program in July, one of their goals was to provide young women with something they didn’t have when they were students at Michigan Technological University — female role models in the automotive industry.

Women in Automotive Engineering, sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), was conducted by Tech’s Center for Pre-college Outreach as part of the Summer Youth Program (SYP). Both women work for FCA — Shute is product investigations manager in vehicle safety and regulatory compliance and Hand works as a reactive problem solving master blackbelt instructor.

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NSBE To Kick Off Program Year With Membership Drive

SOUTHFIELD — The National Society of Black Engineers Detroit Professionals chapter will kick off its program year with a Membership Drive Wednesday, Aug. 24.

The event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. at Bailey’s of Dearborn, 22091 Michigan Ave.

All current and former NSBE members and prospective members are invited to rejoin the organization for another year.

To sign up, visit this link.

Women Scientists To Sample Plastics In All Five Great Lakes

ANN ARBOR — Female scientists from the United States and Canada will set sail Aug. 20 on all five Great Lakes and connecting waterways to sample plastic debris pollution and to raise public awareness about the issue.

Event organizers say eXXpedition Great Lakes 2016 will include the largest number of simultaneous samplings for aquatic plastic debris in history. The all-female crew members on the seven lead research vessels also aim to inspire young women to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Teams of researchers will collect plastic debris on the five Great Lakes, as well Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and the Saint Lawrence River. Data collected will contribute to growing open-source databases documenting plastic and toxic pollution and their impacts on biodiversity and waterway health, according to event organizers.

Two University of Michigan faculty members, biologist Melissa Duhaime and Laura Alford of the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, will lead the Lake St. Clair-Detroit River team, aboard a 30-foot sailboat.

The crew of up to eight people will include an Ann Arbor middle school teacher, an artist and student at the Great Lakes Boat Building School, and girls from Detroit-area schools. Onboard activities will include water sampling and trawling for plastic debris using protocols developed by the 5 Gyres Institute.

“There is a place for scientists in this type of public outreach, and it is a complement to the research that we do,” said Duhaime, an assistant research scientist in the UM Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “In a single day through an event like this, we can potentially reach orders of magnitude more people than we do when we publish our scientific papers, which are read mainly by other scientists. And greater public awareness about this topic, rooted in rigorously collected and interpreted data, can certainly lead to changed behavior in our relationships with plastics.”

Duhaime’s lab studies the sources of Great Lakes plastics, as well as how they are transported within the lakes and where they end up. The work has involved a summer on three of the Great Lakes, trips to Detroit-area wastewater treatment plants, and the sampling of fish and mussels.

The group’s first Great Lakes project included multiple UM labs, one of which analyzed the stomach contents of fish and mussels, looking for tiny plastic beads, fibers and fragments. They found no plastic “microbeads” — spheres typically less than 1 millimeter in diameter, found in many cosmetic products — but did find plastic fibers in a third of the zebra and quagga mussels and at various levels in all the fish species they checked: 15 percent of emerald shiners and bloaters, 20 percent of round gobies, and 26 percent of rainbow smelt, according to Duhaime.

The stomach-content study, which will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, was based on work done in lakes Erie and Huron and was led by Larissa Sano, who is now at UM’s Sweetland Center for Writing.

For years, plastic microbeads were added as abrasives to beauty and health products like exfoliating facial scrubs and toothpaste. But the federal Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 28, bans the manufacture of microbeads beginning next year.

Sources of tiny plastic fibers that make it into the Great Lakes include fleece jackets and other types of synthetic clothing. These microfibers are released during laundering, then slip through wastewater treatment plants and into waterways. Fibers found in common household textiles such as carpets, upholstered furniture and curtains also make their way into the environment and can end up in the lakes.

“Microbeads were just the tip of the iceberg,” Duhaime said. “I think fibers are the future of this research and a much more important issue than microbeads, because of the prevalence and the pervasiveness of these plastic textiles in our lives.”

Researchers like Duhaime are also investigating the possibility that tiny bits of Great Lakes plastics can transfer toxic pollutants from the water into fish and other aquatic organisms. It is unclear what level of human health risk, if any, these microplastics pose to people who eat Great Lakes fish; it is a topic of active research.

On Aug. 20, the team led by Duhaime and Alford will sail up the Detroit River to Lake St. Clair, sampling water and trawling for plastics along the way. Throughout the day at Detroit’s Belle Isle, members of their team will host a beach cleanup and data collection. In addition, a free public-awareness event will be held throughout the day outside Belle Isle Aquarium, followed by a plastic-free community picnic with live music.

Members of the general public are also encouraged to collect Great Lakes water samples and to participate in shoreline cleanup events on the 20th. To sign up, visit the event website at http://www.eXXpedition.com/greatlakes2016.

The mission leaders for eXXpedition Great Lakes 2016 event are two women who met during an all-female voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 2014. Jennifer Pate is a filmmaker, and Elaine McKinnon is a clinical neuropsychologist. Pate plans to use video footage and photographs gathered during the Aug. 20 event to create a film called “Love Your Greats.”

“In parts of the Great Lakes, we have a higher density of microplastics than in any of the ocean gyres,” Pate said. “So the problem isn’t just out there in the oceans. It’s right here in our backyard, in our lakes and on our dinner plates.  We are all a part of the problem, but that means we are also all part of the solution. That’s why we are holding this event, to give people an opportunity to change the story and create a healthier future.”

Partners in the eXXpedition Great Lakes 2016 event include Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup in Canada and the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach program in the United States.

More about the St. Clair-Detroit River team at myumi.ch/6pyld.

Research Shows 30% Of Employees May Fall For Phishing Attacks

ANN ARBOR — The Ann Arbor two-factor security developer Duo Security this week published research that illustrates the risk phishing attacks present to business.

Since its July 2016 launch, about 400 companies have begun using Duo Insight, a free tool that lets IT teams run internal phishing simulations. Of the 11,542 users who received a phishing email from their IT team, 31 percent of organizations are at risk of a data breach due to phishing attacks.

Based on the data from Duo Insight, in a real-world scenario, attackers can run a phishing campaign that takes only 5 minutes to put together, and within 25 minutes they’ve got access to corporate data resulting in a data breach.

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Millendo Starts New Trial On Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Drug

ANN ARBOR — The pharma startup Millendo Therapeutics Inc. announced the start of a Phase 2b clinical trial to assess the efficacy of drug candidate MLE4901, a non-hormonal therapy for the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome.

There are currently no approved therapies for PCOS, which is the most common endocrine disease in women.

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Toggled Adds Patents, Licensees

TROY — Toggled, the solid-state lighting subsidiary of Altair Engineering, said it had added more than 10 new patents and several new patent licensees in the first half of 2016.

New licensees include 3NLED Lighting USA of Atlanta, Ga., GreenTek Energy of Norcross, Ga., IRTronix of Torrance, Calif., James Industries Inc. of Las Vegas, Nev., Kobi Electric of Fort Worth, Texas, LEDi2 of Houston, Texas, LEDWholesalers.com of Hayward, Calif., and Mega Lighting of Castle Hill, Australia.

Toggled’s broad portfolio of more than 90 patents related to LED replacements for fluorescent tubes, and numerous other areas central to the continued advancement of lighting, including communication and control, offers licensees access to numerous lighting technologies.

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MSU Engineering Wins NIH Challenge To Keep Track Of Pills

EAST LANSING — researchers from the Michigan State University College of Engineering have created an easy way to use a cell phone to recognize prescription pills – often a major problem for the elderly and one that can have deadly consequences.

Mi Zhang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the first-prize winner of the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine Pill Image Recognition Challenge. The national competition was designed to develop new methods of automatically identifying pills using mobile phones.

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Monday’s M2 TechCast featuring Inforum, Augmented Reality, Drone Law, And More

ROYAL OAK — The Monday, Aug. 15 internet broadcast of the M2
TechCast will feature Rachele Downs, vice president of entrepreneurial strategies at Inforum, interviewing Christina York, founder and CEO of ALTality, an Ann Arbor-based startup developing augmented reality technology.

Other guests on the show, starting at 3 p.m. Eastern time, are drone law expert Enrico Schaefer of Traverse City; Michael Lomonaco from Open Systems Technologies, a data center and IT services firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Detroit; and Mark Becker of C/D/H, a technology consultant with offices in Grand Rapids and Detroit.

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 40 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.

Health Spending Up a Moderate 5.2% in June

ANN ARBOR — National health spending in June was up 5.2 percent from the same month a year earlier to $3.36 trillion, according to the monthly Health Sector Economic Indicators released by the Ann Arbor-based healthcare consulting firm Altarum Institute.

For the first six months of the year, health spending has grown at an annual rate of 5.3 percent, below the 2015 estimate of 5.5 percent from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but above the 4.8 percent the CMS projects for all of 2016.

The health spending share of total gross domestic product was 18.2 percent in June, tied for an all-time high with February 2016.

Continue reading Health Spending Up a Moderate 5.2% in June

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