Bird’s Eye View
Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin and other institutions plan to build the world’s largest telescope on an icy mountaintop in Chile.
The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), scheduled for completion in 2016, is being called the first of a new generation of ground-based telescopes. It will contain seven perfectly polished mirrors, each 27.5 feet in diameter. Six of the mirrors will surround the seventh, similar to the petals of a flower, in an arrangement that will allow them to act as a single mirror more than 80 feet wide.
Scientists expect the $500 million GMT to let them to see farther – and thus deeper into the universe’s infancy – than ever before. (Bruce Wright)
Follow the Money Trail
Want to know how your state tax dollars are being spent? You no longer have to wait until the state’s Annual Cash Report is published at the end of the fiscal year. Now you can go online anytime and view state expenditures on the Window on State Government Web site.
The 80th Texas Legislature approved legislation calling for the creation of a Web-based, searchable database of state expenditures. The result, the Comptroller’s “Where the Money Goes” Web site, has been operating since Oct. 1.
“We have always provided the information by request. But now, with Where the Money Goes, the information is available with just a few clicks of the mouse,” Suzy Whittenton, director of Fiscal Management for the Texas Comptroller’s office, says. (David Rivers)
Portal on Our Past
The University of North Texas has created a unique resource for students, scholars and Texas-history buffs: the Portal to Texas History, a Web site maintained by the university libraries’ Digital Projects Unit.
The portal contains more than 100,000 content pages offering historically important texts and images, including the texts of more than 300 books; vintage newspapers, diaries and letters; about 200 maps; and nearly 14,000 photographs. It also offers 20 online lesson plans allowing teachers to integrate the portal’s resources with their curricula.
To browse through this unprecedented collection, visit http://texashistory.unt.edu.
High-Tech High School
Technical training is a high priority for tomorrow’s work force. State officials hope to address this need with the $80 million Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Initiative, a program intended to spark innovative educational ideas and produce at least 3,500 graduates each year who will pursue careers in various science, engineering and technical disciplines.
One part of the initiative, which is backed by a combination of state and federal funding and private donations, will create 35 Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (TSTEM) academies across the state. Fifteen of these academies opened in fall 2007.
Manor Independent School District opened its 167-student New Technology High School in August, and it’s already creating a buzz.
“Students are thrilled with the new instructional methodology,” says Mark Diaz, Manor ISD’s superintendent. All of the work there is project-based, much like work in the real world. For example, students were asked to create promotional posters for the school using the latest design software.
“The students were almost arguing about who would make their presentation first,” Diaz says. (Tracey Lamphere)
Here Comes the Sun
Texas A&M Agriculture, part of the Texas A&M University System, will continue bioenergy research on sorghum uses, ranging from feedstock to ethanol production. It will be funded in part by more than $2.5 million from the Sun Grant Initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station has developed a sorghum that can yield 15-20 dry tons per acre and stands up to 20 feet tall.
“Sorghum is a premier, dedicated feedstock for biofuels that is sustainable within existing agricultural production systems,” says Mark Hussey, director of Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station. (Clint Shields)
Women-Owned Businesses Fuel Sales
Companies that buy from women-owned businesses have an advantage in today’s economy.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents in a 2007 study commissioned by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council said they would try a company’s product or services if they knew the company bought from women-owned businesses.
Eighty-one percent of respondents said that awareness of a company’s mission to buy from women-owned businesses would moderately or significantly solidify their brand loyalty to that company. The council surveyed 1,227 women consumers between the ages of 35 and 55.
“Corporations that have a history of buying from women-owned businesses will have an instant competitive advantage with the most powerful purchasers in the marketplace today,” says Linda Denny, president and CEO of the group.
For more information on this study, go to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s Web site or call (202) 872-5515. (Karen Hudgins)