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                                                          February 3, 2018         



With government spending authority due to expire Feb. 8, House GOP leaders plan to hold a vote as early as Tuesday on a new stopgap measure that would extend current spending through March 22, CQ reports. During the Republican retreat at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sounded optimistic on reaching a bipartisan spending deal for the remainder of FY 2018. This would raise budget caps on both defense and non-defense discretionary spending. "I think we are making progress on a cap agreement," Ryan said, according to CQ. "Even if we get everything figured out by say Tuesday, we still will have to have a CR," or another shortterm spending measure, to give lawmakers time to write an omnibus appropriations bill.

NOT A 'CLEAN CR': Appropriators usually don't like stopgap funding bills, which limit their policy influence. But if a stopgap can't be avoided, they prefer a "clean CR" that simply extends current spending levels. That's unlikely with the measure that Congress needs to pass in coming days to avoid another shutdown. The White House is seeking small "anomalies" - additions - that might open the way for attempts by others and diminish the chance of easy, quick passage.

DACA OUTLOOK STILL UNCLEAR: The Trump-imposed March 5 deadline is still a month away, but prospects for so-called dreamers seem no better than a week ago. Bloomberg reports that the president has "hardened his stance on immigration talks . . . saying it may not be possible to reach a deal with Democrats" before the deadline. The website Factcheck.org, citing the Migration Policy Institute, says "an estimated 1.3 million people currently meet the eligibility requirements for the existing DACA program, (which) "could cover up to 1.9 million people in the next several years — about the same number as the White House claims would be eligible" under the president's proposal. 

QUOTE: "And to all the 'Dreamers' watching tonight, let me be clear: Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia. Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos alejar. You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away." - Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), who majored in management science and engineering at Stanford, delivering a Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union address.

CROSS-WISE ON CUTS? Republican and Democratic members of the House Science Committee heaped praise this week on the Department of Energy's Office of Science and 17 national laboratories, Science reports. Two undersecretaries, Paul Dabbar (science) and Mark Menezes (energy) "expressed support for programs and facilities that the Trump administration would like to cut." After  Rep. Paul Tonko (D–NY) noted that the Trump administration has called for eliminating the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, one of five nanoscience centers, Dabbar called the center's work "truly cutting-edge … I can commit to you that I am passionate about what is being accomplished in nanoscience in materials at Brookhaven."

CROWDED CONTEST FOR APPROPRIATIONS: With the planned retirement of moderate Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), right, Republicans are lining up in hopes of taking his top spot on the House Appropriations Committee, CQ reports. Among those in the race are Reps. Mike Simpson of Idaho; Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama; Kay Granger of Texas; and Tom Cole of Oklahoma. "It’s possible that other members" could enter, including Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.).

THE EAST IS RISING: Before hearing testimony from France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, and Walter Copan, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, senators voiced alarm about America's shrinking lead  in R&D investment. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) co-sponsor of the 2017 American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, noted that while the United States still performs 26 percent of global R&D, "China is quickly closing the gap and is now spending about 21 percent of the global R&D total." Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) added: "At this rate, China may soon eclipse the U.S., and we will lose the competitive advantage that has made us the most powerful economy in the world." Read coverage by the American Institute of Physics' FYISee a video of the hearing


BOOST SOUGHT FOR AI AND ROBOTICS: "The Pentagon’s upcoming budget request will include increases to research funding for artificial intelligence and man-machine teaming," CQ reports, citing the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva. "Technology should enable war fighters to see, sense, decide and act faster, he said. . . Pentagon technologists haven’t quite 'cracked the nut' on man-machine teaming yet, he said, referring to the practice of using machines to enhance a person's ability, like exo-skeleton suits."

CLIMATE THREATS TO DoD INSTALLATIONS: "About half of the military's infrastructure has been affected by extreme weather and other climate-related risks," E&E News reports. It cites a January 2018 Pentagon assessment published by the Center for Climate & Security that was based on a survey of more than 3,500 military sites around the world. "It found that about 50 percent of bases reported effects from events like storm surge flooding, wildfire, drought and wind."

WHITE HOUSE WOULD SLASH CLEAN-ENERGY R&D: President Trump's 2019 budget proposal slashes funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 72 percent, the Washington Post reports. So far, "Congress has rejected deep cuts. Programs that could be impacted train Americans to weatherize homes and aim to lower the cost of solar energy, a sector experiencing rapid job growth." The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation responds.

QUOTE: "Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery." - President Trump, State of the Union address to Congress.

'CRIPPLING DISPARITIES REMAIN' in science and engineering, the National Science Board warns in a policy statement to accompany the 2018 Indicators. "The talents of minority groups in the U.S. are perhaps our greatest untapped resource. . . . Hispanics, blacks, and American Indians or Alaska Natives together make up 27% of the U.S. population age 21 and older, but only 15% of those who hold their highest degree in S&E and 11% of workers in S&E occupations. . . . The negative consequences of these gaps will only grow: according to a recent report, nearly 25% of black workers are concentrated in 20 occupations that are at high risk of automation, such as cashiers, cooks, security guards, drivers, and administrative assistants."


Source: National Science Board, 2018 S&E Indicators


NUMBER 1? HOW ABOUT NUMBER 11? "The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings," the news service reports. "The index scores countries using seven criteria, including research and development spending and concentration of high-tech public companies. . .  The U.S. fell to 11th place from ninth mainly because of an eight-spot slump in the post-secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates in the labor force. Value-added manufacturing also declined. Improvement in the productivity score couldn’t make up for the lost ground."


GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD NOMINATIONS: "The Golden Goose Award honors federally funded research that may be odd, obscure or serendipitous but ends up having a major impact on society." You can nominate "colleagues, collaborators and role models" by following this link.  

NREWC/ASEE is searching for a candidate to support a three-year proposal focused on investigating and characterizing chemical, thermodynamic and physical characteristics of laboratory prepared and actual bilgewater samples. The purpose of this work is to advance the current understanding of bilgewater emulsion stabilization to guide wastewater treatment research and develop preventative solutions. Therefore, the candidate must have experience in colloidal and emulsion systems. This can include applicable research in Chemistry, Biology, Food Science, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science or other related fields. Please visit nrewc.asee.org/current_opportunities for the complete job description.

ASEE IS CO-HOSTING the First Annual CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity - pronounced “connected”) Conference next April 29 to May 1. It will be a forum on enhancing diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups in engineering and computing. CoNECD will encompass many diverse groups, including those based on gender (including gender identity and gender expression), race and ethnicity, disability, veterans, LGBTQ+, 1st generation and socio-economic status. It's a collaboration of ASEE's Minorities in Engineering and Women in Engineering divisions and several outside groups. ASEE members can submit an abstract here (login required.) 

ASEE Board Reorganization - Feedback Needed

ASEE ED Norman Fortenberry presents the rationale for a proposed reorganization of the ASEE Board of Directors. Watch a video and  leave your feedback (ASEE member login required; Firefox works best.).

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