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                                 March 2, 2019



House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), far right photo,  envisions a boost in discretionary spending caps similar to the deal lawmakers pushed through in 2018, CQ reports. But "compared to the current fiscal year the increases will be more modest." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also wants to strike a deal on spending caps, although his spokesman says "specific numbers have not been part of early discussions." Without agreement, defense programs will be cut by 10 percent and nondefense accounts by 9 percent below the current fiscal year, according to CQ. President Trump's upcoming budget "will adhere to the initial stringent caps, which would reduce the limits on base discretionary spending in fiscal 2020 by $126 billion for defense and nondefense combined."  Trump will seek to get around the defense caps by asking for $174 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (war) funds. Yarnuth says: "They’ll never get us to agree to a $174 billion OCO.”

NO RETURN TO THE EARMARK ERA - YET: Since both chambers in Congress abandoned earmarks under the weight of scandal in 2011, a number of lawmakers have pined for the days of pork-barrel spending. But fiscal 2020 spending bills, at least those written in the House, won't include them, CQ reports. "Unfortunately, there is currently not the necessary bipartisan, bicameral agreement to allow the Appropriations Committee to earmark," House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) writes in a letter posted to her committee's website. "For that reason, I do not expect Fiscal Year 2020 House spending bills to include Congressionally-directed spending."

MURRAY - MORE STUDENT AID: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has made known his priorities for a reauthorized Higher Education Act: "simplifying the federal student aid system, streamlining loan repayment and holding colleges accountable with a single borrower-repayment benchmark," Inside Higher Ed reports. But the ranking Democrat on his Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Patty Murray of Washington, is pressing not just for the money to be easier to obtain but for more of it. “Everyone who wants to go to college -- whether it’s a two- or four-year degree -- should have the choice to do so and shouldn’t be saddled with debt as a result,” she says. She also wants to steer more funds to minority serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities. 

ENERGY FUTURES: No witness seemed to dispute that the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy should get more money. The question at a House Science subcommittee hearing was where to spend it. Former Director Ellen Williams said ARPA-E should help overcome investor worries by funding "innovative scaling and advanced manufacturing processes suitable  for  domestic manufacturing. It should also "moderately expand its investment in the earliest stage, most innovative, and thus highest risk energy technologies." Her predecessor, Arun Majumdar, called for "private-public consortia to nurture ARPA-E funded technologies beyond the proof-of-concept stage, and enable them to mature to pilot demonstration and beyond." The Manhattan Institute's Mark Mills said an “out-of-the-box” energy revolution "can only come from basic research" in areas such as radically new materials. 

Coming up, the Energy Subcommittee looks at the "Energy Water Nexus: Drier Watts and Cheaper Drops," with Raman P. Singh, associate dean of engineering at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa; and Michael Webber, chief science and technology officer at ENGIE and a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Texas - Austin. 

HIDDEN NO LONGER: Christine Darden, left, who rose from data analyst at NASA's Langley Research Center to become leader of the agency's Sonic Boom Team--along the way earning a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from George Washington University--is among four African-American women whose stories are told in Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley. Bipartisan legislation would bestow the Congressional Gold Medal on Darden, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, "and all the women computers, mathematicians, and engineers at NASA, and its precursor organization the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)."  


'UNPRECEDENTED QUERIES': The National Institutes of Health has sent letters to dozens of research universities asking for an explanation of "a faculty member’s apparent failure to disclose a foreign connection to NIH,"  Jeffrey Mervis reports in ScienceInsider. Director Francis Collins hinted last August that universities might get such questions, citing threats to U.S. biomedical integrity. Even so, some academics fear the move could "become a vehicle to impugn the loyalty" of faculty and chill international collaboration. "[A]t some institutions, every researcher flagged by NIH is Chinese-American," Mervis writes.

Cyberlearning for Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Responding to society’s pressing need to educate and re-educate learners of all ages to function in highly technological environments, this National Science Foundation program awards up to $750,000 for transformative proposals that integrate advances in what is known about how people learn (individually and in groups) with the opportunities offered by new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual or augmented environments. Full proposals are due January 13, 2020. Learn more.

Engineering Research Center Planning Grants: Continuing a pilot launched last year, NSF anticipates funding 30 to 40 awards of up to $100,000 to build capacity for convergent engineering research. PI’s for the planning grant, which is independent from the ERC competition, must be engineering faculty. Complete proposals are due June 3. Learn more.

Faculty Gender Equity: The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program seeks to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic workplaces and the academic profession through evidence-based institutional change strategies. Letters of intent for this year’s ADVANCE awards, which range from $300,000 to $3 million, are due on May 15 or November 1. Learn more.

K-12 STEM Education Innovation Grants: The U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program invites the STEM and computer science community to apply for funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve achievement and attainment for high-need students.  Proposals are due April 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The program also seeks volunteers to serve as peer reviewers.

POWER UP: The Department of Energy has up to $51.5 million for research of "technologies for trucks, off-road vehicles, and the fuels that power them." Funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), this opportunity addresses priorities in gaseous fuels research, including natural gas, biopower, and hydrogen; heavy-duty freight electrification; hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cell technologies for heavy-duty applications; and energy efficient off-road vehicles. Learn more.

DESALINATE WITH WAVE POWER:  DOE's $2.5 million Waves to Water Prize will "will draw upon U.S. innovators to accelerate technology development through a series of contests to demonstrate small, modular, cost-competitive desalination systems that use the power of the ocean to provide potable drinking water to remote coastal and island communities." Learn more.


Year-to-year changes in U.S. R&D expenditures, by performer: 2011–17

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

Ratio of U.S. R&D to gross domestic product, by source of funding for R&D: 1953–2017


UC BOYCOTTS ELSEVIER: The University of California (UC) system "will stop paying to subscribe to journals published by Elsevier," ScienceInsider reports. "Talks to renew a collective contract broke down, the university said, because Elsevier refused to strike a package deal that would provide a break on subscription fees and make all articles published by UC authors immediately free for readers worldwide." Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Washington, D.C.–based group that advocates for open access, said: “This gives institutions that are on the fence about taking this kind of action a blueprint.”

WHY THEY'RE LEAVING: Want to attract and retain more women in engineering? Provide better childcare and supports for new parents. So concludes a new study in the Proceedings Of The National Academy of Sciences that found nearly half—43 percent—of all female engineers and scientists in the U.S. left full-time STEM careers—either for part-time work or for other industries—after having their first child. The drop-out for dads rate was 23 percent. The analysis, led by University of Michigan sociologist and ASEE member Erin Cech, looked at 4,206 individuals tracked by the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System between 2003 and 2006, more than 800 of whom had become parents in those years. The researchers then followed their career trajectories from 2003 through to 2010, revealing the gender differences in career trajectories.


INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS to improving the representation of women in science, engineering, and medicine is the focus of a National Academies study chaired by former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel into space. A day-long symposium highlighting evidence-based interventions will be held March 11.

CLIMATE INTERVENTION STRATEGIES: See the committee members in this National Academies study. 



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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