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                                September 8, 2018



The president says on Fox News that if it were "up to me," he would shut down the government unless Congress provided more money for his proposed border wall. "But I don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt us or potentially hurt us because I have a feeling that the Republicans are going to do very well … in the midterms,” Trump tells the network, according to The Hill. A new push for $5 billion in border wall funding will come "immediately after the election." He had previously threatened to veto legislation funding the government into the next fiscal year, which begins October 1. CQ quotes House Speaker Paul Ryan as saying, "“We have a very good agreement and understanding that we’re going to get our government funded . . . I’m confident our understanding will stick.”

HOUSE-SENATE DEAL IS NEAR ON ENERGY, WATER SPENDING: The three-bill "minibus" wound fund the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, congressional offices and other agencies, CQ reports. 

WARY OF HOUSE NEGOTIATORS: Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says "the Senate must stand together if the House insists on . . . poison pill riders" in conference reports. He also warns of House GOP attempts to break apart the spending compromise forged in his committee. The biggest "minibus" combines Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. If Republicans move ahead just on Defense, "the $18 billion increase for Defense assumed in the bipartisan budget agreement is enacted while the $18 billion dollar increase of non-defense programs could be left in the dust," Leahy says in a speech.

BOOST FOR DEFENSE S&T: That $18 billion DoD increase Leahy cites contains "significant increases for defense science and technology (S&T) accounts," according to Lewis-Burke Associates' Defense Policy Newsletter -- "specifically in areas that support priorities identified in the National Defense Strategy, such as hypersonics, directed energy, artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, autonomy, space, microelectronics, and cybersecurity."

SENATE PANEL APPROVES OSTP, NASA NOMINEES: By voice vote, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee sent the nominations of Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and James Morhard to serve as the deputy administrator of NASA to the full Senate for confirmation. Read a detailed account by Lewis-Burke Associates

OKLAHOMAN CHAIRS SENATE ARMED SERVICES: The elevation of Republican James Inhofe to succeed the late Sen. John McCain will mean a reshuffling of the panel's GOP  subcommittee assignments, CQ reports. "The committee on Thursday also welcomed its newest member Jon Kyl, whom Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tapped to serve out McCain's remaining Senate term. Kyl will replace Inhofe on the Air and Land and Strategic Forces subcommittees and will also sit on the Seapower Subcommittee."

REMEMBER THE 'FISCAL CLIFF'? The favorable spending climate for research and development of the past two years may not last, say Lewis-Burke analysts. "Congress has approved three separate multi-year increases to avoid the automatic spending caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, known as sequestration." However, in FY 2019, which begins October 1, "Congress will need to negotiate a solution to fix the funding cliff for discretionary spending once again.  Maintaining research and development funding at the FY 2019 levels would be at risk." 


NEW LEADER FOR NIBIB: Bruce J. Tromberg has been appointed by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins as the new head of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). "A pioneering leader in the field of biophotonics, Dr. Tromberg is currently a professor at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), with dual appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery. He is also director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic, which develops, applies, and disseminates optical technologies in biology and medicine." He succeeds Roderic Pettigrew, whose new venture is explained in this Prism article

NIH's 'VENTURE CAPITAL' ARM: NIH's durable Common Fund addresses "emerging scientific opportunities and pressing challenges in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute or Center (IC) can address on its own, but are of high priority for the NIH as a whole." Its programs are "short-term, goal-driven strategic investments, with deliverables intended to catalyze research across multiple biomedical research disciplines." See the most recent opportunities.

OMB GEARS UP FOR RESEARCH: The American Association for the Advancement of Science reports that the Office of Management and Budget wants to establish a Government Effectiveness Advanced Research Center (GEAR Center), a public-private partnership that would “bring together experts in disciplines from economics to computer science to design thinking, in order to take a creative, data-driven and interdisciplinary approach to new possibilities in how citizens and government interact.” A Request for Information, open through September 14, seeks ideas from the public, academics, experts, and industry on the structure, operation and research agenda for the center.

EASING BURDEN ON GRANT RECIPIENTS: That's the stated intent of new instructions from OMB directed at funding agencies.

ENGINEER NAMED TO SENIOR INTELLIGENCE POST: Stacey Dixon, right, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and a bachelor's from Stanford, has been promoted to the top job at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which is part of the National Intelligence directorate. She previously worked for the House Permanent Select Committee and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and became IARPA’s deputy director in January 2016.

DARPA - $2 BILLION OVER 5 YEARS FOR AI: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's plan for artificial intelligence will fund dozens of new research efforts as part of a "Third Wave" campaign aimed at developing machines that can learn and adapt to changing environments, the Washington Post reports. Director Steven Walker says the agency wants to explore "how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities." The spending steps up a technological arms race with China and an ideological clash with Silicon Valley over the future of powerful machines. See the DARPA announcement.

NSF BIG IDEAS 2.0: The National Science Foundation's 2026 Idea Machine "is a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering. Participants can earn prizes and receive public recognition by suggesting the pressing research questions that need to be answered in the coming decade, the next set of “Big Ideas” for future investment by the National Science Foundation (NSF)." See how to enter.

$33 MILLION FOR SBIR: NSF's Small Business Innovative Research program invites "proposals in almost any area of science and technology." SBIR Phase I proposals are expected to outline R&D projects with the aim of establishing technical feasibility or proof of concept of unproven, risky technologies. Successful applicants will receive a grant of up to $225,000 over a period of 6 to 12 months. Find out more

CYBER IS A 'STRATEGIC CAPABILITY': So says a Defense Science Board task force, telling the Pentagon it "must  move  beyond tactical  applications" and "ensure we are not self-limiting." Current culture "often slows down or halts cyber options." The DoD must view cyber offense and defense as interdependent. "Cyber operators will need more experience in actually undertaking cyber operations." See the report.

PREP FOR MILITARY IN SPACE: Whether or not Congress creates a Space Force, the Pentagon's underscretary for research and engineering, Michael Griffin, has directed a Defense Science Board study to explore a series of questions, including: What strategy should the nation apply for space resilience in the face of adversary developments? What Service provision architecture should be developed for each element of the nation's space enterprise? How should the Department of Defense incorporate commercial/new space systems to address space warfighting capabilities, space logistics, infrastructure. and resilient backups?


Click here for an interactive graphic showing actual numbers.

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


EUROPE's OPEN-ACCESS PUSH: National research funding agencies from 11 European countries have signed on to “Plan S,” which says that after 1 January 2020, research funded by public grants must be published in compliant open-access journals or on compliant open-access platforms. Authors will retain the copyright. Publication fees are to be covered by the funders or universities, not by individual researchers. The American Institute of Physics' FYI reports that the group implementing the plan, known as “cOAlition S,” includes leading funders such as UK Research and Innovation and the French National Research Agency.


FORMER ILLINOIS TECH PRESIDENT NOMINATED FOR NAE: John L. Anderson, President Emeritus and distinguished professor of chemical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech), has been nominated as the sole candidate for the presidency of the National Academy of Engineering. He would succeed C. D. (Dan) Mote, Jr., whose term will end June 30, 2019. "Since receiving his B.Ch.E. at the University of Delaware and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Anderson has served on the faculties of Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, and Illinois Tech." He also served on the National Science Board. Find out more.


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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