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                                   June 23, 2018



Demands by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and others for a federal probe of telecom giant Huawei's relationships with 50 U.S. universities have drawn attention to extensive public and private U.S-China research links. Huawei says its Innovation Research Program has funded 1,200-plus projects with some 300 universities across 20 countries, including the United States. Its 2018 call for proposals lists a wide range of research topics, from human-computer interaction, big data and artificial intelligence to optical technology. HIRP-funded U.S. partnerships "may pose a significant threat to national security," Rubio and two dozen other lawmakers say in a letter urging the U.S. Department of Education to  "request (and require)" information from U.S. universities "involved in any partnership with Huawei."

A RETURN TO GREAT-POWER COMPETITION: That's how Mike Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, characterized the current era at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). But whereas the Cold War saw a cohesive government-wide anti-Soviet posture, the various aspects of U.S.-China relations are now treated individually. "We as a nation have choices: Do we wish to admit, as we have today, 30,000 Chinese Ph.D. students in the STEM area? . . . It's not for me to say we should or should not. I'm trying to put on the table that these apparently isolated decisions, in fact, when taken together, comprise a whole-of-government strategy that we do not have."

EXTRACTION AND LEVERAGE: Eric Chewning, deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy, told HASC that "Chinese industrial policies of economic aggression . . . pose a multifaceted threat to our entire national security innovation base," with the potenti9al to erode America's underlying innovation and industrial advantage. China seeks to "extract technologies from Western institutions, leverage our educational system to develop its own workforce, (and) use subsidies and non-tariff barriers to prevent competition." Anthony Schinella, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the panel that Confucius Institutes represent "one of many, many footprints that Beijing has in, near, and on our campuses and research institutions that it uses to   . . maintain awareness of what's happening on those campuses."

ECHO IN SPENDING BILL: The Hill newspaper reports that two amendments to the FY 2019 defense spending bill -- due on the House floor next week -- target Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE. "One prevents funding from being used to enter into a contract with the companies. The other prevents funding from being used to reduce any penalties assessed to the companies." Whether these amendments will be adopted and what their practical effect would be is unclear. Both are sponsored by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), indicating concern about China is bipartisan.

PUNTING ON IMMIGRATION: House leaders' decision to put off a vote until next week on what's called a compromise GOP bill means another delay in resolving the "dreamers'" plight. The bill, which at this point doesn't have the votes to pass, would provide a pathway to eventual citizenship for young people brought here illegally as children. President Trump, who had backed both the pending measure and a harder-line bill rejected by the House Thursday, tweeted Friday that lawmakers should place immigration on hold until after the election.


OMB PLAN DRAWS OPPOSITION: Criticism of the Trump administration's proposed federal reorganization has focused mostly on its elimination of a separate Department of Education, treatment of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development, departments, and its carve-up of the Office of Personnel Management. However, the flak so far suggests the plan will have rough going on Capitol Hill. CQ reports that Democrats and labor groups see the reorganization as "a thinly veiled attempt to weaken areas of the federal government the Trump administration has already proposed cutting or eliminating."

EFFECT ON SCIENCE AGENCIES: The Office of Managment and Budget proposes several changes at the Department of Energy. According to the American Institute of Physics' FYI bulletin, "the plan calls for consolidating the . . . applied R&D programs into a new “Office of Energy Innovation.” The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which the White House had wanted to eliminate, would be submerged into the new office. "R&D in all categories (would) compete for common resources, and focus on early-stage R&D."

CONSOLIDATING FELLOWSHIPS: "Small" graduate research fellowships across the government would be managed by the National Science Foundation under the OMB plan, FYI reports. "The plan also highlights NSF’s proposal to invest $60 million in two 'Convergence Accelerators' that would leverage cross-agency resources to support two of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas at the frontiers of science: “Harnessing the Data Revolution” and “Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier.'”

EARLY CAREER AWARDS from the Department of Eneery have gone to 54 researchers at universities, as well as 30 at national labs. See the list.. DOE also funded 31 university biotech projects  totalling $40 million. They're intended to  "advance research in the development of microbes as practical platforms for the production of biofuels and other bioproducts from renewable resources". See the announcement. See the list here.


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


A KECK FUTURES INITIATIVE "brought together 170 marine scientists, professional artists, engineers, biomedical researchers, oceanographers, music professors, and undergraduate design students. . . . Over three intense days, attendees brainstormed ideas around five sub-topics: aquaculture and energy; technology; climate-related change; biodiversity; and communication, adaption, and resilience." This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions.


NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE: PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS FROM 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference. Check them out on ASEE PEER.

The Journal of Engineering Education (JEE) editorial team is considering changes to our strategic plan, processes for publishing articles, and formats for articles. We would like to gather input from members of the engineering education community to help better inform these decisions. Please complete this survey to provide your feedback. The survey is short and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

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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