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April 21, 2017



Driving tomorrow's rare activist foray by science and engineering researchers are "concerns over researchers’ freedom of movement due to travel bans or other immigration restrictions, and an open disregard for established climate science -- as well as long-term negative trends in areas like federal support for research," reports Inside Higher Ed. The New York Times notes that marchers it contacted are "motivated by the election of Mr. Trump and what they see as his administration’s approach to science, from his proposed budget that cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health, to the president’s climate change views and statements on the safety of vaccines."

BACKLASH WARNING: Michael S. Lubell, a physics professor at the City College of New York and longtime science spokesman in Washington, urges marchers to "pay close attention to the plight of the voters who propelled Donald J. Trump to the White House." Among targets of their anger are "the ivory towers of academia, which house the archetypal elites." While science and technology "have powered economic growth in post-World-War-II America, far too many people have ceased reaping the benefits. Robots, computers and global telecommunication technologies have displaced them in factories, warehouses and call centers."

CALL FOR A CLIMATE 'RED TEAM': Another physicist, former Energy undersecretary Steven Koonin, writes in the Wall Street Journal in favor of a “Red Team/Blue Team” process for climate science, which he calls "one of the most important and contentious issues of our age." He refers to the kind of rigorous exercise sometimes employed by the intelligence community to challenge prevailing viewpoints.

ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS: Just how much damage can 134 million gallons of oil do the environment? It’s hard to quantify, but researchers at Virginia Tech did just that in a six-year study evaluating the impact of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Science magazine reports the final figure: $17.2 billion in damage. Read more here.



"In constant dollars per student, educational appropriations remain below historic levels. Funding is 17 percent lower than in 2008 and 19 percent lower than in 1991. The substantial shift of
responsibility for financing public higher education toward net tuition revenue (from around 25 
percent to nearly 50 percent) since 1990 is a significant change for American higher education." - State Higher Education Executive Officers report, SHEF 2016 (Source of the two graphics immediately below).


Five years after earning their doctorates, a substantial proportion of engineers are working for for-profit companies. The example below is for civil engineers, but you can find where Ph.D.s from a number of science, engineering, and health fields end up by using a new interactive graphic put out by the National Science Board. 


TRUMP TEAM STEPS UP DEMAND FOR A SPENDING DEAL: With a week to go before current federal spending authority expires, the Trump team is "insisting that taxpayer dollars for a U.S.-Mexico border wall must be included in a spending package needed to avert a partial shutdown," CQ reports. Eartier, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had suggested the White House could accept funding for health-care insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act in exchange for billions for the wall, plus border security and a defense hike. CQ quotes a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as saying: “Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand.” The magazine reports that "top White House officials so far have stopped short of saying that the president would veto a bill lacking border money." Trump himself said this week: “As far as keeping the government open, I think we want to keep the government open. Don't you agree?” The Washington Post analyzes prospects for a government shutdown, citing experts as saying chances are 50-50.

ARPA-E SPENDING FREEZE REPORTED: The subscription-only PoliticoPro reports: "The Energy Department has started withholding money on grants already approved under the agency’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program, according to two sources who track the office closely. . . . [E]ven projects that received initial ARPA-E backing are expected to see their money withheld regardless of whether they meet their milestones because of a 'procurement hold.'” The implication of the article is that the Trump administration - absent final fiscal 2017 spending decisions by Congress - is moving ahead with its proposed budget cuts. Politicopro notes that "ARPA-E . . . has strong support on Capitol Hill, particularly from Senate energy spending cardinal Sen. Lamar Alexander" (R-Tenn.)

HELP WANTED: The National Science Foundation has openings for a deputy assistant director in the Engineering Directorate and an engineering education program director in the Division of Engineering Education and Centers.


A NEW TAX ON ENLISTEES? That's what the Veterans of Foreign Wars is calling a proposal to be considered by the House Veterans Affairs Committee, according to Inside Higher Ed. The plan "would require service members to pay into the GI Bill to receive future benefits," deducting $100 from new enlistees' pay each month for two years to receive education benefits. The proposal is part of draft legislation from the office of committee chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.). "Student Veterans of America . . . said Congress already requires service members to buy into GI Bill benefits and that the proposal could help ensure that those benefits would be available later." 


AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS, in mining, aerospace, and on the road will highlight next week's Convocation of the Professional Engineering Societies, put on by the National Academy of Engineering and the American Association of Engineering Societies. Keynoter will be Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh, right, speaking on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: Technology, Society, and the Individual. The event will be webcast.


NEW EDITOR AT JEE: Clemson University's Lisa Benson, who has been an associate editor of and contributor to the Journal of Engineering Education, will succeed Michael Loui as editor. A bioengineer, she has appointments in both the Department of Engineering & Science Education and the Department of Bioengineering. See the ASEE press release

THE SIXTH ANNUAL ASEE INTERNATIONAL FORUM will be held on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 on the final day of ASEE’s Annual Conference in Columbus, OH. The International Forum brings together engineering professionals from academia and industry from around the globe who are engaged in novel engineering education initiatives to share information on successful models, experiences and best practices. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Martin E. Vigild, president of the European Society for Engineering Education. Click here for more information.

THE SECOND ANNUAL CHAIRS CONCLAVE at the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference. The ASEE Chairs Conclave, held in conjunction with the ASEE Annual Conference, is an exclusive forum for engineering and engineering technology chairs to exchange ideas, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. This year’s Conclave, on June 25, 2017, is focused on supporting faculty success. Topics addressed include: a) developing leadership skills, b) conducting research evaluations, c) having difficult conversations, and d) acclimating new faculty. Don’t miss out on this unique professional development and networking opportunity. Registration for this full-day event is $200. More detailed information can be found here.

PRISM PODCASTS: Click here to listen.

Prize-winning eGFI:  Get teens fired up about engineering with eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's magazine for middle and high school students. Winner of the APEX Grand Award for Publication Excellence, eGFI combines engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers. Click here to purchase copies, For bulk purchases or other inquiries, contact eGFI@asee.org or call 202-331-3500.