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January 31, 2016




Despite bipartisan support for a major energy package sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), it's a lightning rod for controversial amendments on the Senate floor, Politico reports: "Everyone wants something: Democrats still plan to offer amendments on climate change," plus $400 million to tackle poisoned water in Flint, Mich. Republicans want to "thwart EPA greenhouse gas, ozone and renewable fuel regulations as well as federal hydraulic fracturing controls." The American Institute of Physics' FYI newsletter offers a comprehensive look at R&D provisions. Murkowski's goal is to finish the bill by Thursday night.

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, meanwhile, will hold a Feb. 2 hearing on eight energy infrastructure bills, "five of which focus on bolstering our nation’s hydroelectric power from non-powered dams."

BUDGET HARDBALL: The two-year budget deal, which allows higher discretionary spending in FY 2016 and 2017 than under the Budget Control Act, hasn't brought total peace. CQ and the Washington Times report that the GOP is likely to use fast-track procedures known as reconciliation, which would block Democratic filibuster attempts in the Senate, to cut future spending. New ammunition comes in a report from the Congressional Budget Office "that projects the cumulative or total deficit over the next 10 years at $9.4 trillion, $2.2 trillion more than the cumulative deficit for the 10-year period covered in the previous budget resolution. This means that in order to show a path to wiping out the deficit in 10 years, which most in the GOP want, the fiscal 2017 budget resolution will have to assume even deeper cuts in spending than were in the fiscal 2016 budget resolution," according to CQ.

DEMS EYE APPROPRIATIONS FOR PARTISAN POINTS: If Republican leaders want to demonstrate a return to "regular order" by passing all 12 appropriations bills, they may need to cut with Democrats. "Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, a member of Democratic leadership, pointed to the appropriations process as a possible opening for Democrats," reports RealClear Politics, “They cannot pass appropriations bills without us," she's quoted as saying.

COMMON GROUND? President Obama will meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) Tuesday, CQ reports. White House spokesman said they would "discuss legislative priorities in the coming year building on the bipartisan budget agreement that was signed into law.”

ALREADY DECIDED: The title of a hearing Tuesday before the full House Science, Space, and Technology Committee appears to allow little room for discussion: "Paris Climate Promise: A Bad Deal for America." Witnesses may try, nonetheless. They include John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville. The following day, the Space Subcommittee will hear "Expert Perspectives on NASA’s Human Exploration Proposals." On Thursday, two subcommittees, Oversight and Research and Technology, will conduct "A Review of Recommendations for NSF Project Management Reform." Appearing will be NSF Chief Operating Officer Richard Buckius; Inspector General Allison Lerner; and Dan Blair, president of the National Academy of Public Administration.


Average expenditures per FTE on research at public and private very high research universities: 1987–2012

Source: National Science Board, Science & Engineering Indicators 2016

Freshmen intending S&E major, by race and ethnicity: 1998–2014

Source: National Science Board, Science & Engineering Indicators 2016


$4 BILLION FIST BUMP: President Obama's 2017 budget will include a request for $4 billion to fund K-12 computer science education. The sum would be paid over three years to "states that propose well-designed five-year plans to increase computer science access in classrooms," Wired reports. Another $100 million would go directly to school districts. The White House's Computer Science for All initiative "also includes commitments from philanthropists and some of the country’s largest tech companies to help increase opportunities for computer science training, especially for underrepresented groups."

TEACHER TRAINING THROUGH NSF: The National Science Foundation, with the Corporation for National and Community Service, will launch a five-year, $135 million program to train computer science teachers, using existing funds.

CODING FOR ALL: One of the Champions of Change cited in the White House announcement is Andreas Stefik, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has created "technologies that make it easier for people, including those with disabilities, to write computer software." He "established the first national educational infrastructure for blind or visually impaired students to learn computer science." Stefik also invented Quorum, "the first evidence-oriented programming language."

SMALL WORLD: "The multidisciplinary nature of nanotechnology and the unique and fascinating phenomena that occur at the nanoscale mean that nanotechnology is a perfect topic to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)," argues the White Office of Science and Technology Policy. It touts Nanotechnology: Super Small Science, a collection of videos with "a potential audience of 9 million students."

URBAN LABORATORY: The President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology urges creation of an inter-agency Cities Innovation Technology Investment Initiative (CITII). It would "encourage, coordinate, and support efforts to pioneer new models for  technology‐enhanced cities that will incorporate measurable goals for inclusion and  equity." A federally funded  Urban Science Technology Initiative would be coordinated by the National Science and Technology Council. See the presentation by PCAST co-chair Mark Gorenberg.


RADICAL VISION: Materials scientist Christine Ortiz, dean of graduate education at MIT, is stepping down to start a new university devoted to project-based learning, with "[n]o majors, no lectures, no classrooms.” She tells The Tech: “I’m looking at a new model, where the whole sort of vocabulary is different.” She adds: “The distinction between undergrad and grad goes away.” Students at all levels would be able to work on both basic and applied research, but also on “a vision for a startup.”

Ortiz was a Plenary speaker at ASEE's 2012 annual conference. See the video.


NEEDED SKILLS AND THE TWO STEM ECONOMIES: A National Academies report on workforce development says we have many students with credentials, but fewer with the requisite skills to succeed early in the STEM workplace. There is a "growing need" for people who apply STEM knowledge in technologically sophisticated occupations that require a facility with STEM concepts but not necessarily a bachelor's degree. There is a growing need for students with a breadth of skills outside of  their core STEM discipline, including skills that are perhaps best developed with a well-rounded "liberal education that includes STEM courses, humanities courses, and experiences in the arts." However, the report also cites a study that would lead to a different conclusion. That study suggests there are two STEM economies: an R&D-new product sector closely linked to bachelor's and graduate degrees, and a second sector drawing employees with a community college or vocational STEM background. 

See also: Assessment of Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon


NORTHEAST SECTION CONFERENCE: The section, with members from  Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as Eastern Canada, will hold its annual conference at the University of Rhode Island from Thursday, April 28th, 2016 to Saturday
April 30, 2016. The theme will be “Revolutionizing Engineering Education.” Conference Website: http://egr.uri.edu/asee2016

ASEE HAS THREE important upcoming events:

2016 Public Policy Colloquium - February 8-10, 2016 at The Fairmont Hotel, Washington, D.C., sponsored by the ASEE Engineering Deans Council and its Executive Board. The colloquium is intended to strengthen the discussion of engineering education and research issues between the deans of engineering and key public policy makers, and to enable the deans to refine their public policy agenda. Since the Public Policy Colloquium will focus on the activities of the Engineering Deans Council, we ask that you come yourself and not send an associate dean. Early registration rates end January 22, 2016. Click here for more information.

2016 Engineering Research Council Annual Conference - March 7-9, 2016 at The Sheraton, Silver Spring, Md., sponsored by the ERC and its Executive Board. Conference Goals:
• To provide an overview of federal R&D budgets and upcoming priorities.
• To equip research leaders with tools and strategies to more effectively lead their research programs and organizations.  Workshops and panels include:
o Strategies for winning large center proposals
o Data management and the new federal open access requirements
o Research metrics and academic analytics
o Research laboratory safety

Format Change: We are significantly reducing time spent on formal presentations by federal funding agency representatives, instead asking speakers to provide power point slides as read-ahead material and devoting more time with them as interactive panel discussions and Q&A sessions.  Also, we are increasing the number and scope of sessions on leadership tools and strategies.
Engineering deans, associate deans, department chairs and other engineering research leaders are encouraged to attend this conference. Early registration rates end February 19, 2016.
Click here for more information.

2016 Engineering Deans Institute -  March 29 – April 1, 2016 at the InterContinental San Francisco Hotel, San Francisco.
ASEE's annual EDI provides an opportunity for engineering deans - and only deans - to gather and discuss the crucial issues facing their schools, colleges, and profession. For a few days, a single-stream program fosters dialogue between deans, industry leaders, and those in important roles in research and government. Deans share best practices, learn about career prospects for their graduates, and develop a voice for engineering education and the role of engineering in society. Social activities and plenty of time for conversation encourage the cultivation of relationships and an intensely rewarding experience. EDI is sponsored by the ASEE Engineering Deans Council and its Executive Board. Early registration rates end March 11, 2016. Click here for more information.


New Navigation Section - Papers Management:
The new section contains upcoming deadlines, guidelines, call for papers, and kits for authors, program chairs, reviewers, and moderators.

Author's Kits are Available:
• The 2016 Annual Conference Author's Kit -- available on the website -- contains extremely important information regarding the submission process as well as all relevant deadline dates.

THE ST. LAWRENCE SECTION CONFERENCE will be held at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.,  April 8-9, 2016. This year the conference will include several workshops. The calls for papers, presentations, posters and workshops as well as  information about the Conference Program, Registration, and Hotel information is available on http://stl.asee.org/conference_2016.html.

eGFI IS HERE: Help inspire the next generation of innovators with the all-new 6th edition of ASEE's prize-winning magazine for middle and high school students: eGFI (Engineering, Go For It). Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, eGFI aims to get teens fired up about learning - and doing - engineering. To purchase copies, go to http://store.asee.org/  For bulk purchases or other inquiries, contact eGFI@asee.org or call 202-331-3500.