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July 17, 2015



Committee-passed appropriations bills in both chambers would each provide $2.7 billion for research, including by land-grant schools. A Senate summary specifies "$325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, $244 million for Hatch Act formula funding for research at state agriculture experiment stations, and $402 million for Smith-Lever programs to support overall extension service activities." In its report, the committee said it "expects extramural research to be funded at no less than the fiscal year 2015 levels." The House emphasizes "research to help mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases, improve food safety and water quality, and combat antimicrobial resistance." (See the House report.)

APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS ON 'LIFE SUPPORT': So reports CQ, which says things were bad even before the House came unglued over a Confederate flag amendment. "Senate Democrats have vowed to block consideration of spending measures until a new budget deal with more domestic spending is hashed out." The White House has vowed to veto the measures for the same reason.

SUCCESSOR TO 'NO CHILD' CLEARS SENATE 81-17: Guided to bipartisan passage by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) the Every Child Achieves Act "contains a significant funding focus on STEM education and retains the requirement that states continue testing in math and science, which was a significant achievement in this political climate," writes James Brown, who leads the STEM Coalition. Education Week reported that Education Secretary Arne Duncan "applauded" Senate passage, but quoted him as saying the bill "still falls short of truly giving every child a fair shot at success." House Education chair John Klein, looking ahead to a conference committee, said "There is a lot of work that lies ahead, but I am confident we will find common ground." The White House has threatened to veto the House-passed version of the bill.

COLLEGE PREP: The Senate measure includes an  amendment offered by Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) authorizing "a pilot program within the Department of Education to award grants to support innovative and comprehensive partnerships that assist low-income students in preparation for a college education." It aims "to develop secure, Web-based student accounts that contain information about academic preparedness, financial literacy and high-impact mentoring and would be tied to a college savings account."

HOORAY FOR HUBS: House Republicans usually have few kind words for the Obama Administration, particularly on energy. But the Department of Energy's Innovation Hubs drew praise at a June 17 hearing before a Science, Space, and Technology panel. Full committee chair Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) said the hubs "encourage cooperation across basic science, applied energy, and engineering research and development programs," and "represent a new model for integrating basic
research and development with applied research to create new technologies."  Added energy subcommittee chair Randy Weber (R-Tex.): "With appropriate goals, benchmarks, and oversight, this kind of collaborative research and development is just common sense."


Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. Graphic by Jennifer Pocock, ASEE.

Source: ASEE, Profiles of Engineering & Engineering Technology Colleges - new edition available now.


AVOID 'RETURN WITHOUT REVIEW': The National Science Foundation's assistant director for engineering, Pramod Khargonekar, wants to "reduce the number of submitted proposals that will be returned without review, and to enable a greater number of meritorious ideas to advance." He "strongly" encourages researchers to use the new features for automated compliance checking in FastLane and to consult the checklist.

U.S.-CHINA COLLABORATION: NSF expects to fund no more than three U.S.-China joint research projects dealing with Combustion Related to Sustainable Energy and Urban Water Sustainability. Up to $500,000 will come from NSF and 3 million yuan from the National Natural Science Foundation of China over four years. "A critical evaluation factor for such a proposal will be the extent to which the proposal articulates a compelling rationale for why the proposed research project is significantly better than a comparable research project that could be pursued by a U.S. team working without such a collaboration."

HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGY: A National Institutes of Health/IEEE Strategic Conference on Healthcare Innovations and Point of Care Technologies for Precision Medicine Conference is set for November 9-10, 2015 in Bethesda, Md. "Federal funding opportunities and resources will be showcased, and presentations on recent healthcare innovations, point-of-care technologies, and industry exhibits will be featured. Find out more.

YOUNG WOMEN CHAMPIONS: The White House is seeking nominations of young women who are empowering their communities through mentorship; education; innovation and entrepreneurship; advocacy; and arts and technology. 


'ENGINEERING COMPETENCY': The American Association of Engineering Societies has developed an Engineering Competency Model "In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and subject matter experts from education, government and industry.." The model "provides specific guidance to employers and engineers on the core competencies and skills necessary to enter into the engineering profession, as well as to maintain proficiency during one’s career." See the model.

PERFECT CIRCLE: Adopting the acronym GIoTTO, Google is funding Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Stanford, and the University of Illinois "to create a robust platform that will enable Internet-connected sensors, gadgets and buildings to communicate with each other." The Internet of Things project will "include sensors that are inexpensive and easy to deploy, new middleware to facilitate app development and manage privacy and security, and new tools that enable end users to develop their own IoT experiences."

GOING EAST: San Jose State University President (and engineer) Mohammad Qayoumi is stepping down in August to return to his native Afghanistan and advise President Ashraf Ghani on infrastructure and technology.  Susan Martin, the former president of Eastern Michigan University, has been tapped as interim president.

National Academies

NAE VIDEO CONTEST: Videos competing for the People’s Choice Award in the Engineering for You 2 (E4U2) Video Contest have been selected by the E4U2 judges committee. Watch and vote for your favorite by visiting the E4U2 site: www.nae.edu/e4u. The videos can also be found on the NAE YouTube channel under the “Engineering for You 2 People’s Choice” playlist. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be determined by the number of YouTube “likes” a video receives between January 5, 2015, 12:01 a.m. EST and August 3, 2015, 12:00 p.m. EDT, and will be awarded a $5,000 prize.
All winning videos will be announced in October 2015 at the 2015 NAE Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Questions? Email e4uvideocontest@nae.edu.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: A half-dozen or so real-life engineers are among finalists in NAE's "The Next MacGyver" contest, which aims to produce a TV pilot based on a woman engineer. Beth Keser writes about "A young and beautiful engineering and science prodigy decides to forego corporate life to pursue a career as an expert witness. Nao Murakami's show is set in a universe where the minds of great scientists and innovators are stored in a supercomputer. Judy Wu and three fellow female engineers have spun something described as "Veronica Mars meets Gossip Girl meets Hackers with a social media element."

Check out participants in the next Frontiers of Engineering.


eGFI: A NEW EDITION: Coming in late summer: an all-new eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's popular, award-winning magazine for middle and high school students.

CORRECTION: Last week's item on the NSF-funded project "Promoting LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Equality in Engineering through Virtual Communities of Practice" misstated Adrienne Minerick's title. She's a professor of chemical engineering and associate dean at Michigan Tech.