Week of 8/5/13
Summer interns sample world of real estate
(Inside Business, Aug. 2, 2013)
From how Virginia's ports operate to what historic tax credits entail, the students in the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate internship program have been asking questions all summer.
Candi James, an HBA marketing director who co-chairs the internship program, said she recalls listening to the students during their visit to the Virginia Port Authority.
"I just remember thinking, these are questions seasoned locals would be asking," James said about the class of 2013 interns, the seventh class to go through the program. "You know, they get it."
The interns varied in age, classification and major, but a common theme among them is that they've said their curiosity has led to a new appreciation for commercial real estate.(More)
First Person: Ron Sconyers
(Inside Business, Aug. 2, 2013)
Sconyers, a retired Air Force brigadier general, has worked for the organization since 2004. The organization then had four employees and a budget of $750,000. Now it has 20 employees and a budget of $10 million.
On the mission:
We are an international nonprofit that is focused on helping people help themselves. Our core emphasis is training local medical professions in high-impact areas of health care. By doing that we enable communities in developing countries to really have access to care services that people in the U.S. take for granted. I joined in February 2004...
We work with Old Dominion University School of Physical Therapy, which provides therapists to help train individuals. We don't go into a location and say this is what we do. We go into a location and ask, how can we help you and what are your primary needs? We find a solution to that need and find people who can assist. We are collaborators or partner developers.(More)
VHCC, E&H ink deal for guaranteed admission
(SWVA Today, Aug. 1 2013)
Two local colleges are making it easier for students to obtain their degree.
Emory & Henry College has adopted a Guaranteed Admission Agreement that enhances transfer opportunities for qualified graduates of Virginia Highlands Community College...
The agreement is the latest in a long list of Guaranteed Admission Agreements that VHCC has with public and private colleges and universities. Under these agreements, qualified VHCC graduates are guaranteed acceptance to Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, Radford, Old Dominion, and many other four-year institutions in Virginia and elsewhere. (More)
Colleges Take Different Paths to Distance Learning
(EDTech, July 18, 2013)
Old Dominion University in Virginia has bet big on a distance learning program based on webcams and telepresence gear.
Miguel Ramlatchan, assistant vice president for academic technology services for Old Dominion, says professors record both synchronous and asynchronous broadcasts from the university's production studio. "Roughly 15 minutes before the professor comes to class, a technician tests all the cameras and microphones to make sure everything is ready to go," he says. (More)
Lawsuit seeks to stop federal loan guarantee for coal planned for export from Hampton Roads
(The Daily Press, Aug. 1, 2013)
As a registered nurse at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for more than 20 years, Lorraine Ortega has noticed more and more serious asthma patients who need treatment...
She's concerned enough that on Wednesday she became a prime exhibit for six environmental groups that filed a ground-breaking lawsuit to stop the federal government from financing overseas exports of Appalachian coal until a study determines the potential risks to human health and the environment, from mines to rail transport to overseas shipping...
The coalition contends the U.S. Export-Import Bank, known as Ex-Im Bank, guaranteed $90 million in loans to Xcoal Energy & Resources without first considering the environmental impact, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Ex-Im Bank is a federal agency that promotes exports abroad.
The loan guarantee was approved in May 2012 and is expected to help leverage about a billion dollars in coal exports from Hampton Roads and Baltimore to markets in Asia - mainly China - and Italy, the coalition says...
Newport News has two coal export terminals, both in the Southeast community. Combined, they have a total capacity of just under 39 million tons, according to David Host, president of T. Parker Host, a regional shipping agency based in Norfolk.
Residents in the Southeast community - including Mayor McKinley Price - as well as health advocates have complained for years about coal dust and its adverse health effects.
Even now, health symposiums are being held in the low-income community to educate residents about how their environment might be affecting them. Among the concerns are the coal yards and commercial port operations.
The symposiums, called "Is My Neighborhood Killing Me?", are funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant and held by the Southeast CARE coalition aimed at residents in the 23605 and 23607 ZIP codes. Old Dominion University is partnering to conduct resident surveys and data analysis. (More)
Population Growth and Conservatism
(American Thinker, Aug. 1, 2013)
Talk of population growth among conservatives often leads to two basic perspectives: (1) environmental concerns over excessive population growth are largely unfounded (i.e., the rejection of Paul Ehrlich's "Population Bomb" hypothesis); and (2) more population growth equals larger economic markets, which is a good thing. But population growth is not always supportive of true conservative principles, and the trends are heading in a problematic direction.
In her study of urban-rural voting gaps in U.S. elections between 1888 and 2004, Kimberly Karnes from Old Dominion University found that Republican victories in the 1890s and early 1900s were due in large part to the support of urban voters. (More)
Study: Pollution causing rise in sea levels
(WVEC, July 30, 2013)
Video: ODU's Larry Atkinson interviewed by WVEC reporter Lucy Bustamante about recently released climate change/sea level rise report published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that discusses flooding threat to 1,400 U.S. cities including Virginia Beach and Norfolk. (More)
Unemployment rate creeps up, still lower than a year ago
(The Daily Press, July 30, 2013)
The unemployment rate rose across the Peninsula in June but remained lower than it was a year earlier, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Tuesday.
The region posted a jobless rate of 6.4 percent last month, down from 6.9 percent the same time last year.
The decreased year-over-year unemployment rate and increased size of labor force compared to last year is a sign of improvement, according to Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics at Old Dominion University. (More)
Students Gain Real World Experience at Modern Manufacturing Summer Camp
(The Business Journals; The Street; GlobeAdvisor.com; Ad Hoc News, July 30, 2013)
Modern manufacturing companies are in desperate need of skilled workers. According to a new study by Manpower Group that demand is only expected to increase in the coming years. That's one of the many reasons STIHL Inc. recently hosted its third annual Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp for teens in Virginia Beach, Va.
The camp promotes careers in modern manufacturing, and over the span of four days, 35 high school students had the unique opportunity to design and build different usable products. The students were taught how to use machines, build three different types of lamps (made from STIHL parts), and then had to find the most efficient way to manufacture them.
On the final day, students competed to determine which team created the best process to manufacture and build the lamps.
The competition was judged by academic, corporate, and community leaders including: Dr. Vukica Jovanovic, assistant professor, Old Dominion University. (More)
Opinion: Want better schools? Reduce class size
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 31, 2013)
By Maurice R. Berube, eminent scholar emeritus at :
THE NEW school year approaches, the eternal debate over class size flares up again.
Research on class size is convincing: the smaller the class, the better the student performance. The major study in the past 25 years - Project STAR, conducted between 1999 and 2003 - found that smaller classes "produce lasting results, especially for economically disadvantaged and minority-group students."
But smaller classes mean more teachers and bigger payrolls.
Education reformers are wary of the expense and, according to education writer Sara Mosle, contend that reducing class size is "not cost effective, compared with other possible reforms."
These reformers stress teacher quality. They argue that the best teachers have the best results with students.
"Teacher quality affects learning," Mosle writes. "So do overcrowded classrooms."
So we have two opposing lobbies: the Bill Gates reformers stressing teacher quality, and the teacher unions arguing for class size reductions. (More)
Tick-killing robot will begin backyard trials next year
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2013)
Jim Squire's daughter got a tick one day, and so did his dog.
The engineering professor didn't like it.
Shortly afterward, a colleague at Virginia Military Institute brought him a souvenir from a robotics competition: a little tank-treaded robot chassis.
"He was turning it over in his hands, and I could see he was also turning it over in his head," said the colleague, David Livingston, also an engineering professor.
Soon, along with a third professor, they had invented a tick-killing robot.
Simple as that.
The engineers knew a lot about robots when they started, but not much about ticks. They turned to Old Dominion University, where Livingston had studied, home base of world-renowned tick expert Daniel Sonenshine. (More)
Flood, Rebuild, Repeat: Are We Ready for a Superstorm Sandy Every Other Year?
(The Atlantic Cities, July 29, 2013)
Two months after Hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City, Battery Park is again humming with tourists and hustlers, guys selling foam Statue of Liberty crowns, and commuters shuffling off the Staten Island Ferry. On a winter day when the bright sun takes the edge off a frigid harbor breeze, it's hard to imagine all this under water. But if you look closely, there are hints that not everything is back to normal.
Take the boarded-up entrance to the new South Ferry subway station at the end of the No. 1 line. The metal structure covering the stairwell is dotted with rust and streaked with salt, tracing the high-water mark at 13.88 feet above the low-tide line-a level that surpassed all historical floods by nearly four feet. The saltwater submerged the station, turning it into a "large fish tank," as former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota put it, corroding the signals and ruining the interior. While the city reopened the old station in early April, the newer one is expected to remain closed to the public for as long as three years.
"Of course it flooded. They spent a lot of money, but they didn't put in any floodgates or protection." ...
Roughly 123 million of us-39 percent of the US population-dwell in coastal counties. And that spells trouble: 50 percent of the nation's shorelines, 11,200 miles in all, are highly vulnerable to sea level rise, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And the problem isn't so much that the surf laps a few inches higher: It's what happens to all that extra water during a storm...
Skip Stiles hopes an appeal to fiscal sanity is what will finally get decision makers to care about climate. Stiles, 63, is the director of Wetlands Watch, a Norfolk-based advocacy group that formed back in 1999 to protect shoreline habitats. Not long after joining the group in 2005, Stiles realized that saving tiny parcels of marsh wasn't going to help much if the entire coast was wiped out by century's end. "We started realizing it's not just the wetlands-it's the whole freaking economy in this region that's at risk," he says.
That, and not that many people care about wetlands. "We said, 'What do people care about?' Their homes, their business, their way of life."
Stiles took me on a ride through Norfolk, highlighting spots that have seen major flooding in the past few years. He pointed to one house where a car floated into the front door during a storm, and another that the owner, tired of dealing with the water, has been trying to sell for months. We drove through the Old Dominion University campus, where a small, permanent lake has formed in the back corner of a huge parking lot. "You can't pave under water," he noted dryly, "so this obviously wasn't under water when this parking lot was paved." (More)
VA-GOV: EXCLUSIVE Blue Virginia Interview with Terry McAuliffe: Part I
(The Daily Kos, July 29, 2013)
Intro: Recently, the McAuliffe for Governor campaign graciously provided Blue Virginia editors lowkell and kindler the opportunity to interview Terry for 45 minutes at his campaign HQ in Arlington. He was energetic and enthusiastic as always, even as he noted that the campaign is keeping him going regularly from 6 am to midnight. The following interview is edited for length and to focus on highlights of our conversation. This is the first installment; the second will be posted tomorrow.
One thing we need to do a better job on is the commercialization of our great research at our higher ed institutions. George Mason's done a little -- I just toured them, they've got two great new nano-scientists from NIH. The work's going on at Tech, ODU has a lot of great renewables -- our universities are doing great work, but the state has to help incentivize them to take that research out to the private sector. We need private-public partnerships to do that. (More)