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                                 August 31, 2018



Citing analysts and lobbyists, CQ reports a 50-50 chance that the 2019 defense appropriation won't become law by the start of the next fiscal year. The Defense Department would have to operate under a continuing resolution for October and November "and quite possibly beyond." One or more government shutdowns "are not out of the question." Although the Senate passed an appropriations bill that includes the Pentagon and departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education, the measure still has to go through a conference with the House, be approved by both chambers, and signed by the president. No 2019 appropriations bill has yet become law. So, Congress will likely have to send President Trump a stopgap spending bill  "that will almost certainly cover multiple departments, such as Commerce, Homeland Security and State," and maybe also the Pentagon. "Stan Collender, a veteran observer of Washington budget battles, believes there is at least a 60 percent chance that Trump will shut the government down before the election." Image: Service members carry the late Sen. John McCain's casket into the U.S. Capitol Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. Screenshot from C-Span.

CURB THE USE-OR-LOSE IMPULSE, SENATORS URGE: Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) want the CFOs of 13 federal agencies "to explain how they will avoid waste and abuse." They note in a letter that federal agencies tend to increase spending in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, the Federal Times reports.

CLIMATE FIGHT IN THE BACKGROUND AS ENERGY CONFEREES MEET: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says a House-Senate conference could approve the combined Energy-Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction-VA spending package as soon as next week, according to CQ. The measure would fund the Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among other agencies. When the House took it up in June, Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, ranking Democrat on Appropriations, complained that "Republicans are using America’s veterans as pawns to force through cuts to clean energy research and harmful policy provisions that weaken environmental safeguards. . . . . With regard to the Energy and Water bill specifically, we are confronted with a partisan bill that contains cuts to many important priorities," including energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives and "transformational science efforts, such as the successful and popular ARPA-E program."

Bloomberg reported in mid-August that "more than a dozen climate change programs, including scientific research . . . could be on the chopping block" in various appropriations measures. "In most cases, Senate appropriators included bipartisan measures directing the Trump administration to fund the programs, while their House counterparts would eliminate the programs, reduce money for them, or leave the decision to the administration."

HOUSE CONTESTS FOR APPROPRIATIONS, SCIENCE CHAIRS: "Multiple sources have suggested" that Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), at right, has the edge to replace Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) as appropriations chair, CQ reports. That's if the GOP holds the House in the midterm elections. Four other contenders are Reps. Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Tom Graves (R-Ga.). "The two candidates who have committed to running for Science, Space and Technology chairman" are the current second-ranking Republican, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California (far right photo) and Rep. Randy Weber (R-Tex.) a member of the House Freedom Caucus. 


'CONSTANT THREAT': In a letter to more than 10,000 institutions, the National Institutes of Health warn that "some foreign entities have mounted systematic programs to influence NIH researchers and peer reviewers" through diversion of intellectual property -- in grant applications or NIH-supported biomedical research -- to other entities, "including other countries; 2. Sharing of confidential information on grant applications by NIH peer reviewers with others, including foreign entities, or otherwise attempting to influence funding decisions; and 3. Failure by some researchers working at NIH-funded institutions in the U.S. to disclose substantial resources from other organizations, including foreign  governments." ScienceInsider quotes Director Francis Collins (left) as telling Congress "the robustness of the biomedical research enterprise is under constant threat” and “the magnitude of these risks is increasing.” He has formed a working group on foreign influences co-chaired by Wayne State University President Roy Wilson. 

RECORDING THE BRAIN: The National Institutes of Health want "diverse interdisciplinary research teams that integrate theoretical models with innovative neurotechnologies for recording and manipulating neural circuits across multiple brain regions and scales. Studies of complex behaviors, including behavioral assays of freely-moving animals and objective measures of cognitive/perceptual processes, are encouraged. . . . The goal will be (to) realize meaningful outcomes within 5 and more years." See the Request for Applications.

INTERNSHIPS 'IN ANY SECTOR': The National Science Foundation plans to fund grad students in non-academic internships that "support career opportunities in any sector of the U.S. economy." NSF says that besides "deep and broad preparation in their technical areas of expertise, skills and knowledge regarding communication, innovation and entrepreneurship, leadership and management, and policy and outreach are becoming increasingly valuable to enter any sector of the workforce." Learn more.

SUSTAINING MOORE'S LAW TRENDS: NSF seeks "innovations beyond simplistic, incremental scaling of the existing microarchitectural structures" -- specifically "high IPC techniques ranging from microarchitecture to code generation; 'microarchitecture turbo' techniques that marshal chip resources and system memory bandwidth to accelerate sequential or single-threaded programs; and techniques to support efficient compiler code generation. Success in this area promises to provide significant performance improvements that continue the trends characterized by Moore’s Law." Learn more.


Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF)


BIG QUESTIONS ON PERSONAL AIR VEHICLES: A National Academies report says Claire Tomlin, of the University of California, Berkeley College of Engineering, "is sometimes asked when planes will dispense with pilots completely. 'When will we see FedEx jets taking off without pilots?' For the foreseeable future, she predicted that aircraft will have certified pilots on board. The big questions come up with personal air vehicles, which generally are being designed to fly without a [licensed] pilot. 'That’s going to take a while.' She pointed out that air traffic control would be a very different enterprise if 1,000 flying cars were in the air. 'There’s a lot of other air space functionality that air traffic control provides as a service to people who fly that needs to be understood. How do you do this? How do you schedule things? How do you make it so that it all works together, including bigger jets? How do you avoid those little UAVs that are flying around?'" Read the report

EXPERTS SOUGHT ON THE BIOECONOMY: ASME's Capitol Update reports that the National Academies are searching for experts for a new study on “Safeguarding the Bioeconomy: Finding Strategies for Understanding, Evaluating, and Protecting the Bioeconomy while Sustaining Innovation and Growth.” The goal is to "try to identify new deliverables developed in the life sciences sector – such as datasets and intellectual property — that can help advance the field."

WEATHER WATCH: According to the American Institute of Physics' FYI, the National Academies Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) plans to outline a vision for the U.S. weather enterprise over the next 10-25 years. The study would "address many of the challenges the weather community has grappled with over the last decade, including the appropriate balance and coordination of efforts." 


ABSTRACT SUBMISSIONS OPEN SEPT. 4 for ASEE's 126th Annual Conference & Exposition at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Fla., June 15 - 19, 2019. See the Call for Papers (you may need to log on to the website as a member).

CALL FOR PAPERS: A special issue of Advances in Engineering Education aims to curate proven practices and initiate larger conversations emerging from the work of engineering programs that engage students and faculty in the rigorous research, design, field-testing, and dissemination of technology-based solutions that address global development challenges. Read the Call for Papers here.

ATTENTION, STUDENT WRITERS: Prism’s student columnist, Nirakar Poudel, has earned a Ph.D. and gotten a job, so the magazine needs a new student columnist. The ideal candidate would possess excellent writing skills and offer a fresh voice, clear opinions, and keen insights. The column will appear twice yearly and include a small stipend. Applicants should be undergraduate or graduate students studying engineering, engineering education, or engineering technology for at least the next year. Please send a resume and at least one writing sample (preferably published clips). Email applications to Jennifer Pocock at j.pocock@asee.org with subject line “Student Columnist” by October 1. Women and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

2019 CoNECD ABSTRACT DEADLINE: The second Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be April 14 - 17, 2019 at the Marriott CrystalGateway outside Washington D.C. The Deadline to Submit your Abstract is  October 1, 2018 at 23:59 EDT. See the Call for Papers, and Authors' Kit. To submit an abstract, you'll need to be logged in to ASEE. See presentations from the 2018 conference.

ASEE AT 125 VIDEO CONTEST: One of the activities planned to mark ASEE‘s 125th anniversary is EEin25, the first-ever ASEE video contest. Undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students may submit a 90-second video on where engineering education will be in 25 years at ASEE‘s 150th Anniversary in 2043. Click here to find out more. Click here to learn about other activities commemorating 125 Years at the Heart of Engineering Education.

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!

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