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                                 December 1, 2018



The elevation of Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), right photo, as chair and Kay Granger (R-Tex.) as ranking member marks "a historic advance for female leadership in Congress following midterm elections that saw record numbers of women elected," reports the Washington Post. CQ says the two "are no strangers to working together; they formed a mutual understanding during eight years as their parties’ respective negotiators on the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee." Granger's comments to CQ suggested a diminished staff influence on the powerful panel: "My main goal is to make the Appropriations Committee with Nita Lowey what it once was: It was one of the most important committees in the Congress because we helped our members, and we lost that somehow in all the years,"

SPEAKER HORSERACE: Although she still lacks an open challenger, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will have to run hard to win a majority of the House and reclaim the Speakership in January. Closed-door Democratic balloting this week revealed a bloc of 32 Democrats opposed to her leadership, according to CQ. That larger than expected opposition, if it holds, could deprive Pelosi of the top House post if all Republicans vote against her.

BOOST FOR HEMP RESEARCH: Lawmakers are scrambling to schedule House and Senate votes on the farm bill now that a compromise measure has been agreed upon, Politico reports. While details of the deal’s key provisions are sparse," it's known that the measure "would legalize commercial cultivation and distribution of hemp . . .allowing hemp farmers and researchers to apply for federal agriculture programs," according to a second Politico story. Still unknown is the fate of a provision that would relocate some 700 employees of USDA’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, according to Government Executive. A letter coordinated by the Union of Concerned Scientists said the move would "“hamper the ability of the agency to raise the profile of agricultural research, extension and education, by preventing collaboration with a broad base of stakeholders and federal agencies, many of whom are based in the Capitol area." 

EASIER TIMES AHEAD? In mid-November, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) told E&E News she was "hoping" that Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), current vice chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, would become the top Republican on the panel when she assumes the chair in January. This week, she got her wish as the House GOP picked ranking committee members. "I didn't have a disgruntled relationship with Lamar Smith," she said of the departing chair. "I just disagreed with most of his direction. . . . we got way off course and tried to direct researchers, trying to interfere with the findings of research. . . . This was the most partisan span that we've had these last six years in the history of the committee. It is not a committee designed to be partisan." Smith (R-Tex.) is retiring. For his part, Lucas issued a statement saying: "I look forward to leading my Republican colleagues in holding the new majority accountable and promoting a conservative agenda.”


OCEAN AND THE EARTH: A report from the White House-based National Science and Technology Council on ocean science and technology over the next ten years "identifies research infrastructure as 'one of the highest priorities of the ocean S&T community,'" AIP's FYI Bulletin says. ”It characterizes such infrastructure as encompassing field vehicles and other observational systems, as well as land-based equipment, including high-performance computers, communication networks, and data-storage infrastructure. It also points to the importance of such emerging observational technologies as autonomous and remotely operated vehicles and cubesats." The report is organized around five goals: "understanding the ocean in the Earth system, promoting economic prosperity, ensuring maritime security, safeguarding human health, and developing resilient coastal communities."

COMMERCE WEIGHS EXPORT CONTROLS ON NEW EMERGING TECHNOLOGY: An advance notice cites 14 technology categories that could be subject to "effective controls . . . that avoid negatively impacting U.S. leadership in the science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing sectors." AIP's FYI reports that they include "a range of advanced computing, manufacturing, and sensing technologies. One category is dedicated to quantum information technology and references quantum computing, encryption, and sensing as examples of emerging technologies." 

COMING UP - QUANTUM WEBINAR: An NSF program "aims to grow academic research capacity in the computing and information science fields to support advances in quantum computing and/or communication over the long term. Specifically, QCIS-FF seeks to support departments and schools in U.S. institutions of higher education that conduct research and teaching in computer science, information science, and/or computer engineering." A webinar is set for December 3 at 2 p.m. Learn more.

DISASTER - IT'S A LIVING: The National Science Foundation's  Humans, Disasters and the Built Environment (HDBE) program needs a director. The program "supports fundamental, multidisciplinary research on the interactions between humans and the built environment within and among communities exposed to natural, technological and other types of hazards and disasters. The program's context is provided by ongoing and emerging changes in three interwoven elements of a community: its population, its built environment (critical infrastructures, physical and virtual spaces, and buildings and related structures) and the hazards and disasters to which it is exposed." Learn more about the job.


Capitol Shorts graphic based on Michael Gibbons's infobrief from  National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, "Higher Education R&D Expenditures Increased 4.7%, Exceeded $75 Billion in FY 2017"

Source: Chapter 24 of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. which explains: "Extreme events such as floods, heat waves, wildfires, landslides, and drought play an important role in the vulnerability of infrastructure." Listen to an NPR Science Friday broadcast. 

Source: Fourth Annual Climate Assessment, "Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States," chapter on Data Tools and Scenarios Products. "Degree days reflect changes in climate and are used as a proxy for the energy demand for heating or cooling buildings. During the past 20 years, the number of heating degree days has decreased and the number of cooling degree days has increased. The increase in cooling days is driven by more frequent days above 65°F and more frequent extreme high temperatures."


'A SEVERE ASYMMETRY': A panel of China experts describes the lack of access afforded Americans to a "whole variety of scholarly activities" in the People's Republic compared with what Chinese researchers enjoy in this country. "Individually and collectively, universities and other sectors of American democratic life should insist on greater reciprocity," the group says. It adds that "some Chinese students and scholars have exploited the collaborative research environment on U.S. campuses to obtain sensitive American technologies" and notes that "since 2011, Chinese sources have participated in at least 1,186 donations or contracts worth more than $426 million to 77 American universities . . . making China the fifth most active country by number of gifts, and fourth, behind Qatar, England, and Saudi Arabia, in total monetary value of gifts." Read the report.


AN EARLY START IN ENGINEERING: The STEM Education Coalition held a briefing to discuss a major new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Lewis-Burke Associates attended. Their summary: "Panelists included representatives from industry, higher education, and K-12. Issues raised in the report and discussed at the briefing include the inequitable access to learning opportunities in science and engineering learning, making learning student-centered, the need to increase authentic engineering experiences for teachers, and other efforts to increase investigation and design teaching." Photo: Los Alamos National Laboratory



The 2019 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be held April 14–17, 2019, at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Crystal City, Va. (future site of Amazon’s HQ2). ASEE members qualify for a discount.
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Check out scores of listings geared to engineering educators on ASEE’s Classifieds Website.

NOMINATE A COLLEAGUE: The ASEE awards are the Society’s way to publicly recognize excellent work in our field of engineering and engineering technology education, research and practice. ASEE is now accepting nominations for 2019 ASEE Awards (see list below). The award winners will be recognized at the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Expo in Tampa, Florida in June. Nominators must be ASEE members though membership is not required to be nominated for an award. To submit a nomination, log-in at www.asee.org and click on “Award Nominations.” The deadline to submit all nomination materials is January 15, 2019.

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