Student news wrap 16/05/18

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Attacks on schools and universities on the rise globally

A recent report has shown a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on schools and universities across the world. More than 12,700 attacks occurred in 41 countries from 2013 through to the end of last year, according to the 2018 edition of an annual report by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), released this month. These included attacks on schools, universities, their students and staff. In 18 of the profiled countries, female students and educators were deliberately targeted. “Several trends contributed to the abuses described in the report,” said GCPEA research director Amy Kapit. “These include attacks by extremist armed groups, such as the ‘Islamic State’; the use of aerial bombardment to fight armed groups; and violence against students during protests at school or university.”  In response to this, one third of UN member states (74 countries) have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, including implementing the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. Read the full article on the GCPEA site

University-developed satellite launched to boost Kenyan surveillance

A satellite developed by students and researchers from the University of Nairobi, 1KUNS-PF (Nano Satellite), was launched in Japan last Friday (May 11). The satellite was developed in a partnership with the Italian Sapienza University of Rome and experts from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

It will enhance Kenya’s surveillance capacity, largely in the area of agriculture, and gather data on climate change and the availability of water, among other things. “This is a great milestone in Kenya’s exploration into space,” Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said. The deployment, the first of its kind in East Africa, adds impetus to Kenya’s bid to transform itself into an innovation and research hub in Africa. – Read the article on the University World News site.

Chinese students in Australia targeted by fake kidnapping con

Con artists are targeting Chinese students in Australia. They pretend to be embassy or consulate officials, and falsely tell them that they are implicated in crimes back in China. The victims are tricked into filming fake hostage videos, which are then sent to their parents with demands of ransom. The Australian Federal Police have confirmed they’re investigating at least 25 cases of Chinese international students in Australia targeted in the elaborate kidnapping scam.

There are more than 230,000 Chinese students living in Australia. Commander David McLean, from the Australian police’s cybercrime unit, said he was aware of several scams targeting the Chinese community and that Australian police was working to determine whether the con artists were based locally or overseas. “Ethnic groups, vulnerable groups, isolated groups, foreign citizens or students from any ethnicity are potentially vulnerable and have been impacted in the past,” he said. –  Read the article on the SBS site.

Engineering students race self-driving cars for final exam

In a race dubbed as “The Battle of Algorithms”, engineering students at the University of Virginia had a different kind of final exam last week. Working in teams of four, the students built and raced self-driving 1/10th scale model Formula 1 cars. The models were all built with the same hardware, meaning the way to race faster around the race track is to outsmart the other autonomous vehicles through better software and algorithm design.

The students in computer science professor Madhur Behl’s special topics class in F1/10 Autonomous Racing used the same hardware and algorithms employed in full-size autonomous cars being developed by the motor industry. Behl said his course uses an interdisciplinary approach to research and is one of the first of its kind. His course material is free and open-sourced (available at f1tenth.org), and used by dozens of universities around the world to build 1/10 autonomous cars. – Read the full article on the UVA Today site.