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                                                                 June 20, 2020  



'Frankly, I think we've been naive," says Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), shown on right. Although his bill doesn't mention a specific country, he leaves no doubt that he has China in mind in introducing the bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act with co-sponsor Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), left, and 13 others. The measure makes failure to disclose "any outside compensation" on federal grant applications a crime. punishable by up to five years in prison. A multi-agency Federal Research Security Council, run by the Office of Management and Budget, would streamline and coordinate grant-making between the federal agencies. The bill allows the State Department to deny visas to foreign researchers "who we know are seeking to steal research and IP by exploiting exemptions in our export control laws," Portman says. It also "requires research institutions and universities to provide the State Department basic information about the sensitive technologies that a foreign researcher will have access to," and lets the Department of Education fine universities that repeatedly fail to disclose foreign gifts. Portman chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; Carper is the ranking member. See Portman's floor speech

Portman has also introduced, with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), the Artificial Intelligence for the Armed Forces Act, which "would change how the Pentagon recruits and retains top cybersecurity and AI talent," Defense One reports. Heinrich provides a link to the bill from his website.

WHERE NON-CITIZENS ARE NEEDED: The National Security Innovation Pathway Act, sponsored by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) offers a path to green cards for up to 500 non-citizens per year for "essential work to promote and protect national security." It would be available to select students and professionals engaged in fields such as artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, biology, robotics, and hypersonics. Backers include the Association of American Universities, the Coalition for National Security Research, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, chair of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, who says the bill represents "a necessary first step for the United States to maintain its leadership in STEM talent.” For his part, Schmidt tells the Defense One Tech Summit: ". . . for those of you who are shocked by this, I’m sorry but I’ll tell you the truth, that many of the top graduate students are foreign-born and typically Chinese. That’s partly because the really, really smart Chinese researchers would prefer to be here." Read the bill.

BIOTECH BOOST: Bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) would, sponsors say, "advance R&D and biomanufacturing, develop a future bioeconomy workforce, and support research in ethical, legal, environmental, safety, security, and societal issues. The legislation also would establish a committee to coordinate research in engineering biology across U.S. federal agencies." The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee cleared a substitute for the measure in May. 

SHORT AND INTENSE: House appropriators will consider all 12 spending bills in a markup "marathon" between July 6 and 8, Politico reports. Full committee markups and consideration of subcommittee allocations are set for July 9, Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) has told colleagues. In the Senate, spending bills face delays "amid disagreement over whether extra coronavirus relief and police reform measures should be included," according to Politico.

GREEN NEW DEAL 'PRINCIPLES': The $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that House Democrats plan to bring to the floor in coming days represents "the application of the principles of the Green New Deal and this proves that we can both deal with climate change, fossil fuel pollution and actually create millions of new high-paying American jobs," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is quoted as saying. The largest component is the $500 billion section produced by his committee, but the measure also contains $100 billion for housing, $100 billion for broadband coverage, $25 billion for clean drinking water and $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service. 


"NOT A LOSS; IT'S A DELAY': That's how acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli characterized--in a tweet--the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision blocking the administration's attempt to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA benefits some 650,000 undocumented immigrants, including some engineering students and graduates, who came to the United States as children. "We're going to move as quickly as we can to put options in front of the president," Cuccinelli told Fox. President Trump promised "enhanced papers," but didn't say what they would contain. The Wall Street Journal says a revision acceptable to the court would take time, and notes that "DACA—unlike nearly any other immigration policy—enjoys broad support across the political spectrum," including from 54 percent of Republicans.

A TWO- TO FOUR-MONTH VISA 'PAUSE'? The Financial Times reports that "business groups are growing increasingly concerned" that new immigration restrictions will halt for 60 or 120 days the issuance of new H-1B, H-2B, H4 EAB and L1 intracompany transfer visas. "Universities have . . . lobbied hard against any ban on the Optional Practical Training visas, used by many international students entering the US, warning that it could cut off a lucrative revenue stream on which some institutions have come to depend. It was not immediately clear whether the White House would include student visas in the clampdowns."

'FAST-TRACKED' TO LEAD NSF: Electrical and computer engineer Sethuraman Panchanathan won confirmation this week as the 15th Director of the National Science Foundation. A professor at Arizona State University since 1997, he has also held a number of leadership positions--most recently, executive vice president and chief research and innovation officer. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa, a master's from the Indian Institute of Technology--Madras, and bachelor's degrees from the Indian Institute of Science--Bangalore and the University of Madras. He recently completed a six-year term on the National Science Board. "“I’m glad Dr. Panchanathan’s confirmation was fast-tracked," said Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), ranking member of the House Science Committee, who added that "there’s never been a more important time for strong and smart leadership."

"MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE': This will be a cross-cuttting theme of three future reports from the National Science Foundation's Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, a congressionally mandated advisory body. Lewis-Burke Associates, which attended a recent CEOSE meeting, reports: "The committee hopes to address the problems of minorities not being seen as leaders when they are present and making their absence felt when they are not." The first report in the trilogy--on diversity in leadership--is likely to offer recommendations for supporting potential leaders among minority early-career faculty. CEOSE also wants to use the report to advocate for more sponsorships between researchers at R1 institutions and early-career faculty at minority-serving Institutions.

STILL FLEXIBLE: A memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget extends certain administrative flexibilities for recipients of federal grants, Lewis-Burke reports.  


Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics tables, "Science and Engineering Degrees, by Race and Ethnicity of Recipients: 2008–18."


MORE ACCESSIBLE SCHOLARSHIP: University of California officials intend to make a deal with Springer Nature that begins to grant open access to the UC system's research publications, Wired reports. In what Carrie Webster, vice president of open access at Springer Nature, calls a “blueprint” for other US-based institutions, the deal starts in 2021 for a large number of the company’s journals. The UC system accounts for some 9 percent of published research in the United States. "Increasingly, researchers at those places want their work to be accessible to anybody—for the good of scientific inquiry . . . but also because they increasingly receive grants from funders that require it." Image: Emile Wauters, Scholar at the Table/Wikimedia.

IT WASN'T JUST THE FACULTY: "As Purdue publicized its ambitious plans, the administration was receiving skeptical feedback from parents and alumni — much of it mirroring the anxiety that the faculty and others nationwide feel about returning to their campuses," the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports on the exchange between ASEE's President, Stephanie Adams, and Purdue President Mitch Daniels.    

NOT DROPPING OUT: "Ninety percent of undergraduate students at research universities plan to continue their education in the fall, despite the COVID-19 pandemic," Inside Higher Ed reports, citing the Student Experience at a Research University COVID-19 survey. The report uses data from 19,155 students at five public research universities. The SERU survey found that the percentage of not re-enrolling or undecided students is higher among international students; students who relocated to a different state or a countryafter campus closures; students with caretaking responsibilities; students with disabilities (a learning disability, cognitive disability, or emotional/mental health disability or disorder);and students who reportedt hey had not adapted well to remote instruction."  

COLLEGES' PLANS FOR REOPENING: The Chronicle of Higher Education is keeping track.  


HOT TOPICS: "While there is widespread agreement that continued efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change are paramount, there is growing interest in 'climate intervention' or 'geoengineering' approaches, including those that reduce global warming by reflecting sunlight to cool Earth," the National Academies says in publishing a pair of workshop reports. At one workshop, participants explored research governance mechanisms that might be applied to climate intervention research at international, national, and sub-national scales. At the other, "participants discussed the current status of, and future directions for research on solar geoengineering strategies, including stratospheric aerosol injection, marine cloud brightening, and cirrus cloud thinning." 



Systemic and systematic racism and the novel coronavirus pandemic carry significant implications for engineering education. ASEE is surveying members on both issues.

ASEE is actively investigating and planning activities to support the academic engineering community’s response to the murder of George Floyd and the unjust loss of many other Black lives. A short survey requests more information about your current and planned activities to eliminate systemic and systematic racism. 

The National Science Foundation is funding ASEE to collect your stories about how COVID-19 first impacted and is currently impacting your life and your work. Open-ended questions in this survey ask for your experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.The results will provide a historical understanding of how the higher education community, specifically within engineering, responded to the pandemic, and help develop best practices for similar situations.  

Both surveys should only take a few minutes. Participation is voluntary, and we are not asking for any identifiable information. All responses will be anonymized before any data is shared. 


ASEE announces our system for recognizing professional development (PD) opportunities for PreK-12 educators that align strongly with the 2014 Standards for Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers of Engineering. We believe programs meeting these standards prepare PreK-12 students for either the collegiate study of engineering, or for being informed citizens in an increasingly technological world. 

“Drawing upon ASEE’s Standards for the Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers of Engineering and its accompanying matrix, the creation of a way to describe engineering teaching professional development objectively is a real boon to educators and administrators everywhere,” said Stacy Klein-Gardner, Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University and Chair of the ASEE Commission on P12 Engineering Education and Lead Reviewer for ETPDE. “Individual educators, schools, and districts can now find the exact type of professional development that they need. Finding the seal of ASEE endorsement assures them they are getting the PD just as the provider advertises. PD providers will also have a way to improve their own offerings in targeted and meaningful ways.” 

TeachEngineering is ASEE's first endorsed program. Endorsed programs will receive a badge that may be displayed on marketing material and website; endorsements are valid for three years. To learn more visit https://etpde.asee.org or contact the Program Manager at etpde@asee.org.


This is a foundational, instructor-led, online program preparing new engineering faculty members to successfully launch their careers. They will learn how to navigate their role as a new faculty member and the teaching, scholarship, and service responsibilities of their university and discipline. By the end of this program, they will have the knowledge and tools to positively launch their career, while effectively preparing engineering leaders of tomorrow. This program takes place in four, two-hour-long sessions. Each session will have extensive facilitator-participant and participant-participant interaction, with ample time for questions and discussions.

August 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2020
11:00 PM – 1:00 PM, ET
ASEE Members: $750; Non-members: $850

Please forward this message to your appropriate faculty members. Details are here.


Emerging Insights on Remote Instruction: July 8 at 1 PM, ET: This free webinar will share strategies for navigating remote instruction, including insights on synchronous instruction, remote assessments, and managing student projects and collaboration remotely. Register at https://bit.ly/3hi3Xx5

Emerging Insights on Remote Student Support: July 22 at 2 PM, ET: This free webinar will discuss strategies for supporting students remotely, sharing insights on virtual office hours, empathetic syllabi and in-class icebreakers, instructional techniques to support students in class, and additional ways that faculty, staff, and peers can interact to support student success. Register at https://bit.ly/37mWBno

REGISTER FOR CONECD: The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity holds its next conference January 24-27, 2021 in the Washington, DC region, CoNECD provides a forum for exploring research and practices enhancing diversity and inclusion of all underrepresented groups in the engineering and computing professions. Transformation of our engineering workforce will not be the result of a singular focus. CoNECD will encompass the diverse groups comprising our community, including groups based on gender (including gender identity and gender expression), race and ethnicity, disability, veterans, LGBTQ+, 1st generation, and socio-economic status. Registration is now open.  The deadline to upload your abstract is June 29, 2020.

STUDENT COLUMNIST SOUGHT: ASEE's award-winning  Prism magazine seeks a new student columnist, as our excellent Alice Dai is graduating. If you know students who have a passion for writing and strong opinions on the state of engineering education, please encourage them to send a resume, cover letter, and 2-3 writing samples (preferably published) to Prism Associate Editor Jennifer Pocock at j.pocock@asee.org. They should use the subject line "Student Columnist Application." The columnist will receive an honorarium.  


Registering for the June 22-26 conference will allow you to:

Have the opportunity to see any presentation made by an author, distinguished lectures, or plenaries 24/7 during the week of the conference;
Attend Q&A sessions, so you can interact with the presenters;
Attend workshops, business meetings, and the different orientations that usually happen at the annual meeting;
Attend/participate in the recognition and highlighting of our national award winners, and our incoming fellows, and our outgoing and incoming board members; and
Participate in our interactive exhibit hall as well as sponsor/tech demos. There will be exclusive exhibit hall times to interact with sponsors and exhibitors.

Check the website for updates.