Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

                                    April 13, 2019



A “deeming resolution” adopted by the House this week gave appropriators sufficient authority to start writing fiscal 2020 spending bills using $1.3 trillion as their overall total. House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) says her committee will honor a breakdown proposed by the House Budget Committee: $733 billion for defense and $631 in non-defense spending, CQ reports. Appropriations subcommittees could start voting on some of the 12 spending bills at the end of April.   

The Democrats' progressive caucus, led by Mark Pocan of Wisconsin (far right photo) and Pramila Jayapal of Washington (center) are demanding a 50-50 split between defense and non-defense. They succeeded in derailing legislation setting next year's caps. Unless those caps are written into law, the 2011 Budget Control Act would kick in and force deep cuts across the board.

Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hope to avoid that scenario. Roll Call quotes McConnell as saying Tuesday: "I spoke with the president last Thursday and the speaker this morning, and we’ve agreed to put together at the staff level a group to begin discussing the possibility of reaching a two-year caps deal so we can move ahead hopefully with some kind of regular appropriations process.”  (For more, see the Association of American Universities' Weekly Wrap-up.)

MOUNTING DEBT: The Government Accountability Office warns: "A broad plan is needed to put the federal government on a sustainable long-term fiscal path and ensure that the United States remains in a strong economic position to meet its security and social needs, as well as to preserve flexibility to address unforeseen events." See graphic below.

BEST WISHES: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has listed several signature Democratic bills that may reach the floor after the upcoming congressional break -- "if they're ready," according to CQ: One would recommit the United States to the Paris climate accord, from which President Trump has vowed to pull out. The bill would direct the president to develop a plan for the U.S. to meet the agreement's requirements--reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025--and prohibit the use of tax dollars to withdraw from the pact.

A second bill, the American Dream and Promise Act, offers a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought here as children (recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA); those who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS); and beneficiaries of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). The Center for American Progress says an estimated 2.5 million immigrants could be permanently protected under the bill. The measure is now before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and the Education and Labor Committee. (See a summary by the advocacy group National Immigration Forum.) Roll Call reports: "Most of the bills House Democrats have passed in the first 100 days have hit a brick wall in the Senate. And legislation they’re planning to move next month on climate change, health care and immigration are expected to face the same fate."

Correction: Last week's Capitol Shorts incorrectly said the late Sen. Ernest Hollings served in the House and Senate. He served 38 years in the Senate, but none in the House.

'CORRUPTING A SYSTEM': That's one of the dangers posed by a Chinese government effort "to undermine the U.S. research infrastructure," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in remarks prepared for an appropriations hearing on the National Institutes of Health budget. He cited "an ongoing FBI investigation." China seeks to recruit NIH-funded researchers "to steal intellectual property, cheat the peer-review system, establish shadow laboratories in China, and help the Chinese government obtain confidential information about NIH research grants." NIH Director Francis Collins said 55 grantee institutions are conducting probes, and results will emerge in the next week or two. ScienceInsider reports that Collins told reporters after the hearing: “There are multiple instances of faculty members who will not be faculty members anymore.”


SUBMERGED THREATS: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has enlisted Northrup Grumman, the underwater tech firm Coda Octopus, Duke University, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and the University of Memphis to develop new sensing hardware and software for the marine environment. DARPA's Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program seeks to leverage existing maritime monitoring capabilities and "tap into marine organisms’ innate abilities to sense and respond to perturbations in their environments." This skill will improve detection of underwater vehicles, from small drones to nuclear subs. See recent DARPA funding opportunities.

YIPPIE: The Air Force Young Investigator Program (YIP) plans to make awards of up to $450,000 to career scientists and engineers who have received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees by 1 April 2012 or later and who show "exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research." The deadline for applications is June 3. Find out more

SURF'S UP: The Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office is interested in supporting hydropower operational flexibility; low-head hydropower and in-stream hydrokinetic technologies; advancing wave energy device design; and marine energy centers research infrastructure upgrades. Learn more

PARTICLE ACCELERATOR TRAINING: The Department of Energy has $5 million available for "U.S. colleges and universities, singly or as consortia" to develop "an innovative curriculum for the program, including a rigorous thesis or dissertation requirement, with studies closely aligned to DOE science and technology priorities. Application institutions will normally be expected to form a collaborative relationship with one or more DOE National Laboratories, where many of the nation's most powerful particle accelerators reside." Learn more.

Also, see who earned the Office of Science's Graduate Student Research Awards.

COMING UP: The National Science Foundation's Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee, chaired by University of Maryland dean Darryll Pines, meets April 17 and 18. No agenda has yet been posted.

THE 'BROADER IMPACTS' QUESTION: It hasn't gone away, according to the Committee of Vistors for NSF's Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems Division in the Engineering Directorate. While giving high marks to the division, the COV says: "There is still confusion from the standpoint of the PIs, the reviewers and the program directors (PDs) on what BI entails, and how to assess and evaluate it. We would like to encourage ECCS to increase its efforts to educate the whole community on what BI encompasses, and how its merit is incorporated into the evaluation process."


Source: Congressional Research Service, The Postsecondary Undergraduate Population: Student Income and Demographics


INCREASE IN LOW-INCOME STUDENTS: "The number and proportion of low-income students has increased in more recent years, even as total enrollment has decreased," according to the Congressional Research Service. Also: "Low-income student enrollment has increased at a faster pace than the nation’s population of low-income persons. The majority of students enrolling in postsecondary education have incomes below 200% of the poverty guidelines. Independent undergraduate students who have sometimes been labeled as “non-traditional” constitute a large portion of enrolled postsecondary students and tend to have lower income than more “traditional” students. Nonwhite students account for nearly 50% of the undergraduate student population, and they tend to have lower income than white students. The majority of low-income students attend community colleges and a disproportionately high share attend private for-profit institutions." (The image at left is from a government website no longer used.)

A RISING SPACE POWER: A new report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission says China "has nearly completed a new, rival global navigation satellite system (GNSS)—set for completion in 2020—and demonstrated its willingness to undertake high-risk, high-reward missions, as reflected by its historic landing on the moon’s far side in 2019. China is likely to achieve future milestones in areas where it is lagging behind international standards on shorter timetables than when the United States accomplished similar missions." The report examines China’s space goals and strategy and implications for the United States. 

LOW-COST WAYS TO IMPROVE TEACHING . . . at research universities are suggested in a paper prepared for the recent meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed the author.



Apply Today: Challenging Implicit Bias Train the Trainer Program

Receive the tools and training needed to prepare and deliver implicit bias workshops at your institution with the new train the trainer program Training for Action: Challenging Implicit Bias. This three-part program will commence with a full-day workshop on June 15th in conjunction with the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference. Applications open now! Learn more and apply: https://goo.gl/NSQMwF

New Two-Part Webinar Event: Engineering Inclusive Classrooms

Join us for a new two-part webinar event to learn actionable strategies for engineering inclusive classrooms. During this event, Dr. Tershia Pinder-Grover (University of Michigan, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering) will explore classroom climate, discuss key principles behind inclusive teaching, and provide attendees with techniques for engineering inclusive classrooms. Registration is free for ASEE members! Learn more and register for Parts 1 and 2 at http://www.asee.org/webinars

Department Chairs' Best Practices

Register for the 2019 Chairs Conclave–taking place June 16th in Tampa, FL–to connect with department chairs and learn the best practices of successful chairs. Topics covered include leadership skills, department culture, faculty evaluations, and entrepreneurship for chairs. The Chairs Conclave is an exclusive forum for engineering and engineering technology department chairs to exchange ideas, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. Learn more and register today–seating is limited–at https://chairsconclave.asee.org.


The 2019 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be held April 14–17, 2019, at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Crystal City, Va.




Check out scores of listings geared to engineering educators on ASEE’s Classifieds Website.

SIGN UP FOR THE EARLY-BIRD REGISTRATION RATE at ASEE's 126th Annual Conference, June 15 - 19, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. The conference features more than 400 technical sessions, with peer-reviewed papers spanning all disciplines of engineering education. Click here to register.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE ACCELERATOR: ASEE's free monthly newsletter for undergraduate and graduate students has a wide array of resources: scholarship and internship/co-op listings, student news and essays, podcasts, professional development resources (e.g., advice on how to get an internship and how to make the most of it), and academic advice - plus entertaining engineering videos. Tell your students! Click here to subscribe. Send content to Jennifer Pocock at j.pocock@asee.org.

FIRE UP THE FUTURE WITH eGFI: Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, the latest edition of ASEE's award-winning Engineering, Go For It is sure to get your students excited about learning - and doing - engineering!

Order Your Copies