US News Gives High Marks to MIT

Aerial view of the East Campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) along the Charles River. Courtesy of Nick Allen

US News and World Report once again ranked graduate schools of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology among the best in the nation. The weekly news magazine has been ranking schools of higher education since 1990, and MIT’s graduate engineering program has placed first in every year including this year.

Another of MIT’s high-ranking grad schools is the Sloan School of Management, this year earning the 5th place of all the country’s best graduate business programs.

As far as the individual areas of study in engineering, MIT got the top spot in six subjects: aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering (along with Caltech), chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical/electronic/communications engineering (tied with Stanford University and UC Berkeley), materials engineering, and mechanical engineering. MIT ranked number two in nuclear engineering.

In the business division, the following four individual specialties in the MBA program ranked first: business analytics, information systems, production/operations, and project management. The study of supply chain/logistics was ranked second.

The magazine does not publish rankings of all doctoral programs every year but examines how they are doing from time to time. In 2018 MIT had 24 of the 37 science subjects they examined rank in the top five programs.

The rankings of the grad schools are based on two kinds of data: reputational surveys of deans and other academics; and statistical indicators that measure the quality of each schools’ students, faculty and research. The periodic rankings, which are less frequent, of the science, social science, and humanities programs, are based on reputational surveys alone.

Small Business Growth in the USA Fastest Among Latinos

Despite entrenched racism that results in lower incomes and more hoops to jump through to get small business loans, Latino business owners are the fastest group of entrepreneurs today in the United States. Throughout the last decade, the community of Latino business owners expanded by an amazing 34%. That is especially impressive when we compare that growth to the 1% growth of all business owners in the USA. The trend is likely to continue as more Latinos are applying for small business loans to either start or expand their businesses.

The data was analyzed by researchers at Stanford University. Their 2019 study, based on 2017 data, found that about 60 million Latinos in the US make up about $2.3 trillion in economic activity combined, which is the equivalent of the eighth largest economy in the world. By the end of 2020 projections declare that Latinos will make up 30% of the total US population. That means the Latino contribution is poised to explode.

Businesses owned by Latinos employ over 3 million workers, so says the 2019 State of Latino Entrepreneurship report by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI). When everything is accounted for, Latino-owned businesses make up about 4% of all US business revenues and 5.5% of all US employment.

Considering the discrimination Latinos face in the US, those supporting this business community say that if Latinos were given a decent chance, they would be able to grow their part of the US economy even more. The problem today is that the “opportunity gap between Latinos or Hispanics and their white, business-owning counterparts is wide.
“Wealth is the missing ingredient in the Latino community,”

said Jerry Porras, a professor of organizational behavior and change emeritus at Stanford Business School, co-founder of the Latino Business Action Network, a non-profit out of Stanford University focused on empowering Latino business owners, and co-director of SLEI.

“If we could add more wealth, people would consume more and grow the economy. How do we get more wealth? Grow businesses.”

“It’s a synergistic process,” said Porras. “In the long term, it will benefit the whole country.”

Amazon Opens Grocery with Auto Checkout

Consumers no longer need to worry about the long lines at the checkout counter, or if they have over 10 items, or cash or credit. Amazon is making buying groceries almost as easy as opening the door to your own pantry, where even the need to open your wallet has been annihilated.

The cashier-strapped supermarket opened this week in Seattle, the birthplace of Amazon. The store bodes well for an enormous disruption in the $800 billion grocery store industry.
Shoppers enter the store and scan their smartphone app. A myriad of cameras and sensors pay careful attention to what comes off the shelves and charges it all to the consumer’s Amazon account.

The new store, named Amazon Go Grocery, is an expansion of Amazon’s two-year-old chain of 25 Amazon Go convenience stores, which are only one-fifth the size of the 10,400 square-foot full-size grocery and stock mostly soft drinks and sandwiches.

Dealing with produce was a special challenge. Consumers like to squeeze their tomatoes and avocados before purchasing, which makes it difficult for the sensors to keep track of what’s what. Nothing is weighed at Amazon Go Grocery. The fruit and veggies are per item, with oranges going for 53 cents apiece, and bananas 19 cents.

Another type of grocery store is in the planning stages by Amazon to open in the Los Angeles area later this year. Amazon says it will not be a cashier-free store, but what it will be is still a secret. The company has also not said whether more Amazon Go Grocery stores are being planned for other locations, and they also say they are not planning to bring autonomous shopping to their 500 Whole Foods groceries, which they purchased in 2017.

Not everything about Go Grocery is an improvement. Shoppers must bag their own groceries as they shop. Also, Amazon has eliminated the friendly butcher, baker, and deli-counter worker. Instead, these items are found pre-packaged in refrigerated shelves.

Helping fellow shoppers can lead to trouble. If someone needs help with an item on a high shelf, if you are taller and get the item down for that person, you will be charged if the person you helped leaves with that item.

With all-new technologies come a few bumps. But overall, this seems to be a positive move forward for the grocery sector.

Dubai International Airport Largest in World

Photo courtesy of Raihan S.R. Bakhsh from Kuwait

Beating out the world’s second-largest airport by over 6 million passengers, Dubai International Airport says it welcomed 86.4 million travelers during 2019. The world’s next in line is London’s Heathrow.

The middle east’s star airport was able to maintain its position despite closing one of its runways for repairs and the additional problem of Boeing’s 737 Max, further reducing the number of flights and people on them.

Dubai airport had fewer passengers overall in 2019, by 3% from 2018, accommodating a total of 89.1 million passengers. The decline in airport use is attributed to the three following issues: one of its runways was closed for about 6 weeks; India’s Jet Airways filed for bankruptcy; and the ban on flights of the Boeing 737 Max.

Last year marked the 6th year in which Dubai International Airport was ranked first for the number of international passengers flying through. The world’s busiest airport overall, however, is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Data Shows US Businesses Growing

According to a report, the beginning of the year 2020 has seen a burst of growth in US business activity. This contrasts with slowing growth in many other major economies around the world.

Photo courtesy Isabel Alarco

Japan also saw a rise in business activity, helping pick up for the weak performance at the end of 2019. Europe was showing signs of slow growth in January, with exports from Europe stabilizing after a long decline. The service sector was still languishing.

The US economy is doing better than either Japan or Europe, and the prediction is that for the near future at least it will stay this way. The cooling down of the trade war between the US and China should also add a little boost to the economies of both countries and countries connected to them through trade.

IHS Markit, a data-gathering company, reported that its composite purchasing managers index in the US had reached 53.1 in January, up from 52.7 in December, the highest it has been in 10 months.

IHS also stated that, according to surveys, businesses in Europe and out will most likely remain slow and weak. Surveys of CFOs discovered confidence in the US market, but not as much confidence in the European and other markets. Some are expecting a stall in the 2020 economy.