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                                   August 19, 2018



A combined fiscal 2019 measure representing about 63 percent of total discretionary spending will be on the Senate floor in the coming week, CQ reports. "But even with bipartisan backing, the package could still be a heavy lift" and whether it will become law "remains in serious doubt." the House has yet to pass its own Labor-HHS-Education bill. History suggests that section will be a magnet for amendments in the Senate. President Trump's battle with the intelligence community looks set to complicate progress of the massive appropriation (Substitute Amendment to H.R. 6157). Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) tweeted that he's drafting an amendment that would "block the president from punishing and intimidating his critics by arbitrarily revoking security clearances," according to CQ. 

RESEARCH OVERHEAD STILL RANKLES WHITE HOUSE: The Office of Management and Budget, in a policy statement on the Defense-Labor-HHS-Education bill, says: "The Administration is disappointed by the continued inclusion of language . . . which prohibits changes to the method (the National Institutes of Health) uses to pay grantee institutions for administrative and facilities costs." Congress adopted that language after universities protested administration attempts to slash overhead. OMB goes on: "[T]he administration strongly opposes any attempts to prohibit NIH or any other agency staff from developing strategies to make government programs more effective and efficient."

'UNLIKELY BIPARTISAN BREAKTHROUGH': A New York Times analysis says "spending bills are advancing in a way that hasn’t been seen in years" in the Senate, at least, where "Democrats and Republicans are working hand in hand to pass a series of consensus spending bills. . . . The truth is that most lawmakers from both parties like to spend money, and that annual resolutions that simply continue existing funding levels deprive them of the ability to influence where the money goes." But the Times notes: "Negotiations with the House will be difficult, and Senate Democrats are nervous that Republicans could cave under White House pressure" over spending levels and priorities. 

A NONSCIENTIST ATOP ARPA-E? SENATE IS FINE WITH THAT: So reports Jeff Mervis of Science following a confirmation hearing for investment banker S. Lane Genatowski, President Trump's nominee to head the Department of Energy’s  Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Senators "don’t seem to think that his lack of technical training will hinder his ability" to run the cutting-edge agency.


25 MILLION-DOLLAR AWARDS are expected from the National Science Foundation in connection with its RAISE (Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering) project to advance quantum research. NSF has sought  interdisciplinary research projects drawing on physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science, engineering, and computer/computational science that "focus on quantum functionality by assessing aspects relevant to both fundamental and application concepts, and must result in experimental demonstrations of transformative advances towards quantum systems and/or proof-of-concept validations."

See background on Quantum Leap, one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas, and the August 2 announcement: “Enabling Quantum Leap: Convergent Accelerated Discovery Foundries for Quantum Materials Science, Engineering, and Information (Q-AMASE-i)."  The latter anticipates six-year awards totaling $20-25 million.

A 6.9 PERCENT RESPONSE: That's all the Union of Concerned Scientists got back after it sent out a survey "to over 63,000 federal career staff across 16 federal agencies, offices, and bureaus" seeking views on "the state of science under the Trump administration." Response rates on prior UCS surveys over the past 13 years have "typically ranged from 15-20%." Possible reasons cited by UCS included fear of bosses or hackers. A couple of agencies discouraged participation. The results show "significant challenges related to the development and use of science to protect the public from environmental and public health threats at some federal agencies," the UCS says, but notes "damage varies widely across agencies." Jeff Mervis wrties in Science that the results "fall short of documenting widespread unhappiness with the Trump administration."

PRACTICAL FUSION: The Department of Energy has awarded $36.4 million to 37 research projects to "advance the practical usage of fusion energy science as a potential energy source," ASME's Capitol Update reports. See the list of winners.

WIND CENTER OVERHAUL: Changes are in store for the Department of Energy's National Wind Technology Center. The aim is for the center to "transition from its focus on wind to a broader mix of energy research and development opportunities, including energy storage and grid integration. Specific areas of interest include hydrogen fuel cells, advanced manufacturing, solar, grid integration and storage, marine hydrokinetic, hydropower, geothermal, and hybrid energy technologies." DOE is seeking ideas and information.


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock. Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF). To see a larger image, click here.


MICROGRIDS FOR AIRPORTS AND TRANSIT: Reliability, resiliency, affordability, and sustainability -- microgrids have the potential to fulfill all of these, a National Academies report says. "Factors such as the physical space availability, electrical system scale, and on-site electrical system experts make airport and public transit facilities attractive sites for microgrid implementation." But there are caveats: "In addition to the utility integration barriers that affect all microgrid market segments, airports and public transit entities have intensive power demand, extensive security requirements, and considerable construction constraints. A further impediment is the lack of successful existing projects to demonstrate effective practices and economic viability."  


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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