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                                 March 9, 2019



The White House document, expected Monday, will show "a steady glide path toward lower deficits" and a "very tough spending outline, five percent reduction [in] domestic spending across the board," Larry Kudlow, chair of the National Economic Council, tells CNBC. "It's just what the doctor ordered." Citing Acting Budget Director Russell Vought, Reuters reports that the budget "aims to cut non-defense spending and cap spending under levels set in the 2011 Budget Control Act - a feat made possible only with an increase in an emergency account called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund to cover Trump’s plan to increase defense spending."

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, urges the House Budget Committee to "reject further cuts to civilian R&D and science and technology programs, and indeed I would hope that you would increase our federal R&D investments in these programs. The Federal investments are vital to our scientific enterprise, and further cutbacks would put our nation’s global competitiveness in jeopardy. We need to invest in our research agencies: NASA, NOAA, NSF, NIST, DOE, EPA and others . . . ." 

Note to readers: An abbreviated Capitol Shorts with budget highlights will appear early in the coming week. The newsletter will not be published next weekend. 

U.S. R&D RISKS LOSING ITS EDGE: Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, Patrick Gallagher, president of the University of Pittsburgh, and Mehmood Khan, an endocrinologist, chief scientist at Pepsico and chair of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, presented variations on a common theme before the House Science Committee: In research and development, the United States is in danger of falling behind as other nations accelerate spending and attract global talent. McNutt: "Given the often long lag time from research to applications, we may not realize the impacts of being behind until we are far behind, watching other nations reap the economic rewards and strategic advantages of early S&T investment." Gallagher: "For decades, the United States has been the destination of choice for internationally mobile students. . . , but our international competitors are making a concerted effort to attract these students." Khan: "America’s lead in venture capital is shrinking, further diminishing its role as a driver of technology and innovation globally." Lewis-Burke Associates notes that committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) joined Johnson, panel chair, in emphasizing the need for growing U.S. investment in R&D and "wants to work together with appropriators to continue the fiscal year (FY) 2019 R&D increases in FY 2020 and beyond." Read L-B's Hearing Update.

WATER NEEDS ENERGY; ENERGY NEEDS WATER: "Although the administration recently launched a broad initiative that focuses on water production and announced two funding opportunities for desalination technologies, these are only components of the overarching energy-water nexus," says Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) who chairs the Science panel's Energy subcommittee. He conducted a hearing around the Energy and Water Research Integration Act of 2019, which calls on the Department of Energy to consider water production, use, and treatment throughout its relevant R&D programs. Witnesses included Raman P. Singh, head of the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Oklahoma State University and associate dean at OSU-Tulsa, and Michael E. Webber, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Texas-Austin and chief science and technology officer at ENGIE, a global energy and infrastructure services firm."

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE BIOECONOMY? Kevin Solomon, left, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, will be among witnesses at a House Science Research and Technology Subcommittee hearing entitled, Engineering Our Way to a Sustainable Bioeconomy. Solomon works on expanding the synthetic biology toolbox to engineer microbes that serve as  chemical factories, microbial computers, and novel therapeutics. Prism explored this topic last year. Also testifying: Eric Hegg, professor of biochemistry and molecular bology at Michigan State.

HIGHER ED ACT REAUTHORIZATION GAINS MOMENTUM: Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and ranking member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) plan five hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), Lewis-Burke Associates reports in its latest Education Policy Newsletter. Topics: The Cost of College; Strengthening Accountability in Higher Ed; Cost of Non-Completion; the Role of Community Colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions; and Exploring High-Quality Pathways to a College Degree.

FEDERAL AID FOR CO-OPS: Legislation expected to be introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) would make clear that the same federal work-study funds that support on-campus jobs could be used for off-campus coop jobs: part-time and full-time, off-campus cooperative education and other work-based learning experiences with nonprofit, government, and for-profit employers. ASEE is among supporters of the bill. 

CYBERSECURITY, AI, QUANTUM INFORMATION SCIENCES, AND MICROELECTRONICS, as they relate to national security, will be R&D subjects of interest to congressional defense committees, Lewis-Burke Associates reports. "Both the House and Senate will debate balancing near term readiness needs against DOD’s long-range investments in research and development (R&D) to address critical technologies." according to L-B's Defense Policy Newsletter. Also: "At a Center for New American Security discussion on February 28, White House officials said the fiscal year 2020 budget will prioritize and increase R&D investments in AI, particularly at the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense (DOD)." 


AIR FORCE SECRETARY RESIGNS: Heather Wilson, former congresswoman, president of the South Dakota School of Mines, and a champion of Pentagon-sponsored university research, is the solo finalist to become president of the University of Texas-El Paso. Her departure comes amid planning for the new Space Force, within the Air Force, for which the Pentagon is seeking congressional support. The Space Force reportedly would cost $72 million in fiscal year 2020, and climb to $2 billion over five years. Wilson launched Air Force 2030, a review of the service's science and technology, but its completion has apparently been delayed.

STILL WAITING FOR GENDER PARITY: Women over all get smaller grants than men from the National Institutes of Health, even when controlling for research potential, according to a study reported by Inside Higher Ed. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medication Association (JAMA), "looks at National Institutes of Health grants from 2006 to 2017. Female first-time principal investigators received a median grant of $126,615, across all grant and institution types during that period."

PENDING EXPORT CURBS WORRY TOKYO: Japanese media report that the country's industry ministry "has asked the US to tread carefully in its plan to limit high-tech exports to China, saying there's a risk it could hurt Japanese companies. . . . The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to decide later this year on imposing export controls on 14 categories of advanced technology developed in the US. They include AI and biotechnology." Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that the controls "will be far narrower than initially feared by Silicon Valley when the move was unveiled last year" and the final list will have fewer technologies. Lynne Parker, assistant director for artificial intelligence at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told the Center for a New American Security: "There are lots of civilian applications, lots of applications that could somewhat easily be turned into military applications, but we are not going to export-control the entirety of all those broad fields.”

DARPA'S SMALL-BUSINESS WISH LIST: Over the next year, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency "will recruit companies to participate in cutting-edge national security research efforts like advancing 'third wave' artificial intelligence, developing miniature satellites, building lethal lasers and upgrading the country’s nuclear arsenal," Defense One reports. See the agency's Small Business Innovation Research-Technology Transfer (SBIR-TTR) solicitation.

DURIP AND MURI SOLICITATIONS: The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) competitions for each military service can be found HERE (for the Air Force); HERE (for the Army); and HERE (for the Navy). Find Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) solicitations HERE (Navy),​ HERE (Army), and HERE (Air Force).

ILLICIT SUPPLY NETWORKS: The National Science Foundation's  Operations Engineering program invites proposals on  methods to discover, disrupt and disable illicit supply networks. "Projects must focus on fundamental research that advances the scientific understanding of the operations of illicit supply networks and methods for their disruption. While proposals must be responsive to the Operations Engineering program description, the complexity of illicit supply networks requires a systems approach, and submissions from transdisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged." Find out more.

TRAVEL TO A TOKAMAK: The Department of Energy will spend up to $30 million to support experimental research on magnetic fusion energy science at international fusion facilities known as tokamaks.  "The research will be conducted by U.S. scientists on existing facilities in the European Union, South Korea, and other countries that have existing bilateral agreements with the United States." National laboratories, universities, and private industry will be eligible to lead the three-year awards, which will be selected on the basis of peer review. Learn more.


Note: The table immediately above is both male and female. Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF)



MACARTHUR TO LAUNCH NEW $100 MILLION COMPETITION: The MacArthur Foundation says "By funding at a level far above what is typical in philanthropy, we can address problems and support solutions that are radically different in scale, scope, and complexity. $100 million is a large enough sum to focus on a serious problem and its solution in a meaningful and lasting way." Find out more



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


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. (future site of Amazon’s HQ2). ASEE members qualify for a discount.
Click here to register

Connect with Department Chairs at the ASEE Annual Conference
Learn the best practices of successful department chairs on June 16th at the 2019 Chairs Conclave in Tampa, FL. Designed by chairs, for chairs, the Chairs Conclave is an exclusive forum for engineering and engineering technology department chairs to exchange ideas and experiences, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. Learn more and register today – seating is limited – at https://chairsconclave.asee.org.


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.

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